A man arrested by the operatives of the Rapid Response Squad (RRS) of the Lagos State Police Command for being a major buyer of stolen mobile phones in Lagos, has confessed to have bought over 4,256 mobile phones from robbers, pickpockets and one–chance gangs operating in and around the state.
The suspect, Kazeem Bamidele, 42, who is said to be the second vice chairman of the National Union of Road and Transport Workers’ (NURTW), Ajegunle Unit, equally confessed to the RRS Intelligence team that he has over 52 boys in Lagos State who steal and sell’clean phones’ to him constantly.
Kazeem, popularly known as ‘Elewure’ in the social circle, was arrested when the RRS Intelligence team quizzed two stolen phones users in Kogi State in connection with abduction and robbery cases in Lagos State.
The operatives had upon returning from a week long investigation to Port Harcourt, Enugu and Kogi State, swung into action by arresting Elewure from his shop in Boundary market, Ajegunle after he was fingered to have been the seller of two Blackberry Z10 phones and a CAT phone collected from victims of robbery and abduction incidences in the metropolis.
Kazeem said, “I have over 52 boys who sell clean stolen mobile phones to me. On the average, I receive 38 ‘clean’ phones in a week. I have been in the business for more than two years.”
He also confessed that “Boundary Market in Ajegunle where I have office and shop, is where they sell the phones to me and that is where the buyers equally get them. I know they are stolen phones.Nearly every guy in Ajegunle is involved in this kind of runs. It is what they do to survive.
“I was pushed into the business by family pressure. I have two wives and seven children. I have so many dependants. What I pay as school fees alone is staggering”, the suspect confessed.
Bamidele also stated that he had too many problems in life. “My mother gave birth to 13 children for my father. Though both of them are no more, only three of us are left. I am the breadwinner of the family. My first wife’s children are part of my predicaments. Since I married the second wife I have not known peace. Can you believe that since I was arrested, she has never called or visited me? I know this is a lesson for me in life. She has seven children for me and what I pay as school fees for her children alone is staggering,” he lamented.
Bamidele further said he started out in life as ‘elelubo’ (pepper and maize grinder). I know that most of these phones were gotten from pick pocketing, one chance and through robbery.”
The suspect revealed that his second wife has mounted so much pressure on him to quit the business long ago but the financial pressure was too much for him. “I think I have come to a point now that I don’t need to be advised to stop it.”
Giving a breakdown of his business lures, Bamidele said “I buy Infinix Hot 2 at N10,000 and sell N12,000; Blackberry Z30 at N20,000:00 and sell at N22,000:00; buy Infinix Hot Note at N15,000:00 and sell at N17,000 and Samsung Galaxy X3 at N11,000 and sell at N14,000. I don’t buy iPhone because of its locking system.”
Investigators revealed that as at the time of his arrest, five stolen mobile phones were found with him. He is presently helping the police to pick up his pick pocket boys from their hide-outs, bus stops and routes of operations around the state.
Already, two commercial buses ‘Danfo’ used for robbery and one chance operations are presently at RRS Headquarters in Alausa.
However, when The Daily Times visited the secretariat of the NURTW in Oko-Oba in Abule- Egba area of Lagos, it was revealed that the suspect is not a member of the union. According to State Chairman of the NURTW, Alhaji Tajudeen Agbede, the suspect once worked for the union but denounced his membership about six years back. “So, I stand to say anywhere that NURTW member in Lagos State are responsible members and not robbers,” Agbede said.
An RRS source told our correspondent that most of the boys who bring phones to Bamidele’s shop stay in hotels around the state.
“Some of the phones traced to Elewure were that of high profile members of the society as well as celebrities,” the source said.
The suspect has been transferred to SARS for further investigations and prosecution.