A young job seeker and graduate of Political Science, University of Benin, Dickson Ogiemwonyi, aged 24, is currently cooling off in a police cell following his alleged involvement in a car theft. He allegedly bought the vehicle for N130,000 from an armed robbery gang.
Parading the suspect and others, operatives of the Edo State Police command yesterday, arrested and paraded a five-man robbery gang, which specialise in car snatching in the state, leading to the recovery of five vehicles snatched at gunpoint across various parts of the state.
Ogiemwonyi said he was contacted by an auto electrician, identified as Samson Alao, aged 26 years, who is also in police custody, to buy the Lexus Jeep at N500,000 but bargained for N130,000, which unknown to him was a stolen SUV said to be worth over N2 million.
Ogiemwonyi, who claimed the auto electrician was a familiar friend, said he had no idea that the SUV and other cars he has acquired through him could have been stolen, despite it being sold at very low prices without relevant and valid documents.
“I have paid N130,000 for the Jeep and already changed the colour from gold to red. I never knew my friend who confessed to the police that he sold the stolen car to me was into car snatching. I know him to be an auto-electrician and car dealer,” Ogiewmonyi said.
According to the police spokesman, Abiodun Osifo, the arrest of Ogiewmonyi led to the recovery of five other cars as he made useful information leading to the arrest of other accomplice and car snatching syndicate.
Others arrested in connection with the crime included a 54-year-old Godwin Itanu, an auto spray painter, who the police described as an accomplice, as he was in possession of three cars snatched by the syndicate in his workshop.
Godwin, while narrating his level of involvement, said it was unknown to him that the said SUV was a stolen vehicle, adding that Ogiewmonye was the son of his customer of over 16 years, whom he had sprayed their vehicles and never suspected that the son of his age-long friend and customer have become a criminal, who deals on stolen cars.
The auto spray painter said he was arrested when policemen stormed his workshop with the said Ogiewmonye to ask questions concerning a Lexus 300 Jeep, which the said Ogiewmonye contracted him to change the colour from gold to red.
Osifo said the breakthrough was made possible following a tip off on the criminal activities of the gang and the consequent raid and arrest of the gang at their various hideouts. He warned members of the public to only purchase genuine vehicles with relevant document and advised spray painter to always request for valid particulars of vehicles when contacted by owners before agreeing to spray any vehicle, particularly when such vehicles involve changing its original colour.
He added that the five exotic vehicles recovered from the syndicate include one registered Toyota Camry car with registration number Edo: BEN 443 DP, and four other unregistered vehicles, namely Toyota Matrix, Lexus 300 SUV, Ford saloon car and Nissan Primera.