The love for ostentatious life has put four apprentice traders in trouble. They rob boutiques, and the homes of the rich for expensive shoes, clothes and jewelry in order to show off as “big boy traders”.
A member of the gang, Ugo Nnakue, 26, told Lagos State Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) operatives that they operated discreetly.
Ugo, an apprentice in the Ladipo Auto Parts market in Lagos, is being held by the police with Ozioma Ike, 20, Kenechukwu Anierobi, 23, a hustler, and the gang leader, Obi Gaza.
Anierobi was arrested in Mushin by a patrol team on May 18 with a nylon bag containing stolen phones.
He was taken to Mushin Police Station where he confessed that he belonged to a four-man gang that used sledge hammers and iron cutter to break into boutiques.
He was transferred to SARS Headquarters in Ikeja, from where he took the police to arrest Ike and Gaza .
Nnakwe said: “I sent Kenechukwu to follow Obi and the other one to break a shop at Mushin and one boutique on Nkenu Street in Ajao Estate. They went with one rod and two iron cutters. I sent them two times. I shared their loot with my roommate. I chose my size of jeans and shoes and started wearing them. I received four phones while my roommate got about five. We break shops to get expensive shoes, clothes which ordinarily we could not afford. But it was just to show off as big boy traders in Ladipo market and its environs.
“In our second operation, I got 12 jeans trousers, two wrist watches and 13 assorted shirts which I kept for personal use because I did not loot to sell. We succeeded in the third operation but one of us, Kenechukwu, was arrested by police. When police arrested him, we ran away but he later brought SARS operatives to arrest us despite the oath we took not to betray any member in a situation like that.”
“For three years, as an apprentice, my master (who is even my brother) refused to settle me. He even found it difficult to give me pocket money to be like my peers; that was why I joined the gang to get fine clothes to wear like my mates.”
Ike said he followed the gang to break into two boutiques, adding that his role was to alert others in case of danger. “We shared our loot in our sponsor’s house. In the first operation, I got 15 jeans trousers and 10 tops (shirts), while in the second, I got 21 jeans trousers and 13 tops. I used my bag to pack some of the loot. We hanged somewhere till 4 am before we started working towards a bus stop. We steal to show off as big boy traders in Mushin,” he said.
Anierobi said: “I hustle in Ladipo market. I usually charged N1, 000 for carrying an engine. I joined them to break shop in Mushin where we got 35 phones. We used cutter, chisel and wheel spanner to break shops.”