ATABOR JULIUS writes on a 10-member gang headed by a member of a church, which had been terrorising parts of Kogi central and the Lokoja municipal.
Unbelievable,you would say, for one to be active in the day time working in the House of God, leading the youth to the knowledge of God as a soul winner, while at night he would be busy recruiting gangs against the same church he was winning souls for.
That is maverick, Sulaiman Jamiu, 22, a bricklayer by profession and youth pastor with Living Faith Church, Okene, Kogi State.
His mother is also a committed choir member of the church which made Jamiu a familiar and popular name among the church workers and the pastors, who entrusted in him the recruitment of bricklayers and other artisans for the church school project.
Unknown to the church community, Jamiu, whose gang of sledge hammer robbers have become a terror to the people of Okene and indeed the entire state, only used his devotion to the church activities as a decoy for his predatory actions.
In the past, the church had been losing some building materials to Jamiu and his robber bricklayers and whenever the pastor pointed it out to him being the head of the labourers, he would say, “One day, holy ghost fire will unmask the culprits.”
According to the junior pastor, Mr. Exodus Momoh, who suffered high degree of injuries during one of their raids on the church, “Every morning before the commencement of work we would pray and unfortunately, Jamiu will invoke the power of the Holy Ghost to reveal those pilfering the materials even as nobody suspected him.
He said in order not to slow down the pace of work, the church would normally withdraw huge sums of money to take care of weekend purchases and the payments of wages to Laborers.
He hinted that Jamiu, who has unhindered access to the pastor’s office, alerted his gang about the huge sum of money kept in the safe. The pastor said that while he was in his office in the night praying, Jamiu and his group, armed with chisels, hammers and guns, broke into the office, stole the N350,000 withdrawn from the bank earlier in the day for the weekend purchases and payment of labour and drank all the beverages in the fridge.
However, in the morning he was among the first callers to console the pastor who was assaulted during the night raid, even as he still invoked the holy ghost fire to unmask the perpetrators.
Succinctly, nobody among the congregation would have ever suspected Jamiu of having anything to do with the gang.
However, before the bubble burst, Jamiu and his gang had reduced many traders and shop owners to abject poverty as they continued to use chisels and hammers to drill large holes into the shops to gain access to their loot and will later plaster the hole, leaving the owners in suspense as to how the goods disappeared without anything being done to the doors.
When the news of the arrest of junior pastor Jamiu filtered into the church, members and the pastors stood against the peddlers of the news against one of the most trusted youth workers in the church.
According to Pastor Exodus, “When we heard that those who robbed the church were arrested, nobody believed that brother Jamiu could be fingered. But we were stunned to reality as the Police invited us to hear his confessions” he bemoaned.
Briefing journalists about the escapade of Jamiu and his ten-member gang who had robbed over twelve boutiques and electronics shops in Okene, Adavi and Lokoja, the commissioner of police, Alhaji Muhammed Katsina, noted that the suspected gang was made up of bricklayers and block moulders who hang around in the day soliciting for jobs, while at night would turn around to rob their employers using their work implements to gain access after they would have gathered intelligence in the course of their job.
He disclosed that it was the eagle eyes of the Ambush squad that smashed the syndicates across the Kogi central and the Lokoja municipal axis.
Katsina, however, warned those embarking on housing projects to be vigilant about those posing as bricklayers and artisans, saying that some of them were of questionable characters.
Narrating his ordeal to LEADERSHIP SUNDAY, a victim, Mr. Paul Ekwusi, owner of Paul and Kings boutique at Okene said he lost N2.5 million worth of wares to the gangsters.
Paul, who broke down in tears on seeing Jamiu and his members said all that he had laboured to set up the shop has been taken. “They have reduced me to a beggar now. In fact it was one of my association members that loaned me his motorbike for me to ride as Okada to keep body and soul together” he wept.
Similarly, Hajiya Umah Ani who sells Arabian wears in Lokoja recounts how her shop was raided by Jamiu and his collaborators leaving her penniless. She disclosed that over N300,000 worth of shoes and dresses were carted away, forcing her to consider relocating to the village as an option.
Amidst sobbing, Jamiu blamed his ordeal on the devil. “I didn’t plan to rob the church, but when I saw the huge sum of money, just like the devil tempted Judas Iscariot, I was tempted to call my boys for the operation. All I need from God is forgiveness. True, I didn’t want to do it but the devil lured me .” he sobbed.
The police boss averred that Kogi’s location has made it prone to transit crimes, stressing that the squad, whose operations were not visible, accounts for the success the CP Muhammed Katsina administration has enjoyed.©Standard Gazette, 2021. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s publisher is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Standard Gazette with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.