Tuesday, August 16

Two arrested for vandalising NITEL cables, offer police N500k bribe (Photo)

Lagos state police have arrested two suspects for alleged vandalism of NITEL underground cables in Ikeja. The suspects, Taofeek Babatunde, 33 and Ibrahim Sise, who were paraded at the command headquarters on Monday, were also accused of offering N500,000 bribe to the policemen who caught them. According to police Commissioner, Fatai Owoseni, the suspects were caught by anti-crime patrol team of the Ikeja Police Division. He said:

“They were caught vandalising, cutting, stealing and loading the NITEL cables into a truck along Works road junction besides the Lagos State High Court. When these suspects were accosted, they offered to the bribe the policemen to cover up that crime. They had offered N500,000 and of course the policemen played along with them and collected the money offered.
“They went ahead to arrest them after collecting the money which you can see right here. On counting the money, it was discovered that it amounted to N493,500 and the policemen in furtherance to the call of responsible and effective policing by the Inspector General of Police (IGP) turned down the gratification.
“Those policemen stood their ground although they played along as if they were going to collect the money, which they handed over to their DPO. The N493, 500 offered as bribe, the Volvo truck with which they were about carting away the vandalised cables, the sword blades that they used as tools for cutting those underground cables and of course the cables that have been loaded in to the truck were all recovered and would be used as exhibit.
“Efforts are on to arrest the third suspect, one Wasiu Salami who is on the run. The two suspects we have would be arraigned before the court on Tuesday.”

However, Sise denied being a vandal, adding that he’s a scrap dealer who usually bought items in smaller quantities from some men. According to him, he never knew they usually stole the items, adding that he was only told by the same group of boys that they had big business for him.

“Some guys usually sold scraps to me but in little quantities, about N3,000 or N5,000. I don’t really know much about these guys but I know they live at Apapa.  They came to me on Sunday and said they want to bring big business for me but they requested a huge amount of money, which I refused to give them.
“I insisted on accompanying them to the place. So on getting there, I already knew it wasn’t legal. I asked them how they plan to do it and they said they are doing it with a Police patrol team. Even before we left, they made me speak with the Police people.
“We went in the night. I saw the patrol team and the boys. I do not know how to cut, I only buy and sell. So, I just left there and went to a club at Ikeja under bridge. After two hours, I went back and saw that they had finished the job.
“We were packing the cables into the truck when another patrol team came. The two patrol teams met there. I’m saying the truth. So, the patrol team that arrested me was discussing with the patrol team we were with already.
“Our own patrol team came to me and said how much I can afford to give this people to settle them. So, I said they should negotiate with them and any amount they agree they should come and meet me and I would give them if I have it with me.
“Later he came to me and said I should give him N300,000. At that time, I had only N250,000. I had to go back and get money to complete it and I came back and gave them the money. The boys who stole the cable and loaded the vehicle were still around when I brought the money.
“The police then told the driver to drive the vehicle to the station. We followed even with the boys. When we got there he said N500,000 and I didn’t have any more money. I had to go back that night to go knock on people’s doors to beg for money just because I wanted to settle it. I came back, gave him the balance of N200,000 which is the money here.
“So, after collecting the money, he said I should stay with the driver that in the morning when the DPO comes we would talk. I stayed till the DPO came and that was it. The police didn’t arrest the boys. They went away scot free. I have been doing this business for 13 years now. I have never been to a police station. I don’t know if this was a trap set for me,” he said.
Babatunde who’s the driver said he was promised N30,000 to drive the truck, adding that he agreed because he was told some policemen were part of it.

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