A 50-year-old naval rating, Oyewole Femi, who is the head of a car snatching syndicate that operates in Lagos and its environs, has confessed to selling most of the stolen cars to senior naval officers.
The suspect, alongside three others, Joshua Adeleke (41), Kabiru Ismaila (38), and Ukpabi Bright Ikechukwu (39), was arrested by the police.
Oyewole, who claimed to be serving at the headquarters of the Western Naval Command, said, “I am a serving naval officer attached to the headquarters of the Western Naval Command, Naval Base, Harbour Road, Apapa. I am the leader of a car snatching gang. I have served in the Nigerian Navy for 22 years.
“I have been arrested for similar offences by the police. I have also received more than 15 units of vehicles from members of my gang.
“In 2016, I was handed over to the Western Naval Command when the police discovered that I am a serving naval officer for necessary disciplinary action.
“I was subsequently arrested alongside Joshua Adeleke and Kabiru Ismaila for a similar offence by operatives of the defunct Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) in 2019, where seven units of vehicles were recovered from me.
“I was handed over to naval authorities for necessary disciplinary action, while Joshua and Kabiru were prosecuted.”
When asked why he was allowed to go, the suspect said: “No disciplinary action was taken against me because some of the receivers of the stolen vehicles are top officers in the Nigerian Navy.”
On his part, Joshua Adeleke admitted snatching many vehicles along with Ismaila and that all the cars were handed over to Oyewole who sold them off.
He said, “Oyewole is our financier. It’s based on his instructions that we go out to steal cars, after which we hand them over to him.
“We have sold over 25 vehicles to Oyewole Femi. He buys them for ridiculous prices such as N100,000 and N150,000. He pays us the money in bits; at times N40,000 and at times N80,000.
“We sold the recent gold Toyota Camry 1999 model with registration number MUS 499 AM to him for N100,000.”
The Assistant Inspector General of Police (AIG) in charge of Zone 2 (Lagos and Ogun states), Adeyinka Oyeleke, while parading the suspects, said he got intelligence information on December 20, 2022, that a gang of car snatchers robbed a victim of a gold Toyota Sienna and sold same to one of their buyers and that the zone swung into action and arrested the suspects.
Meanwhile, the Spokesperson of Western Naval Command, Commander Edward Yeibo, told our correspondent on phone that the Command was only aware that Oyewole was arrested as a receiver of stolen vehicles.
He said, “It’s a lie from the pit of hell. No serving senior naval officer will buy a stolen vehicle because they know the implications.”