AS the manhunt for suspected armed robbers that robbed several banks in Lagos and Ogun States in recent times continues, an ex-militant commander-turned robbery kingpin, Million Clement Abanara, recently arrested by the Police has confessed that he and several other ex-militants carried out the attacks.
He was tracked down by detectives attached to the Inspector General of Police (IGP)’s Special Intelligence Response Team (SIRT) at his hideout in Osayande Estate, Benin City, Edo State where he recently relocated.
With the confession at the police station, it was confirmed that the gunmen who were dressed in military camouflage during the operations in Lagos and Ogun states are ex-militants who returned to the creeks. “Most of the generals including Ossy and Kakadu dropped their guns during the amnesty period. They also collected N65, 000 per month from government. Abanara said that the attacks were specifically carried out to draw the attention of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation to the need to hire the generals controlling Ikorodu and Festac areas to protect the pipelines”.
Not bothered that he was in police net, Million, a 42-year old father of 5 repeatedly raised his hands to heaven that he had fully repented and to earn God’s forgiveness, he was ready to confess to every crime that he committed in Lagos.
Manhunt and arrest
In 2015, bank robbery in Lagos State was always hitting the headlines of every newspaper. The security challenge in the state started at a time residents heaved a sigh of relief after the reign of a notorious robber, popularly known as Godogodo was brought to an end. Several notorious gang members were mopped up in Lagos between 2012 and 2014. As a result, Lagos State, under Governor Raji Fashola was rated as peaceful.
In March 2015, a new wave of crime hit the state following celebrated attacks by gunmen dressed in military camouflage. In a commando style, every activity in Lekki axis was brought to a halt as they raided a new generation bank. That incident left three policemen and some civilians dead even as the robbers carted away millions of naira. While police was busy arresting some of the minor suspects who participated in that robbery, the hoodlums struck again.
This time, they attacked two banks in Ikorodu twice in the month of June. In October, they returned, this time, it was to Festac town. Armed with sophisticated weapons, the suspected militants stormed the town and successfully raided three banks and escaped through the waterways. The following month, the same set of robbers returned and raided two banks in Agbara area of Ogun State.
At that point, the Inspector General of Police, Solomon Arase had to draft his Special Intelligence Response Team (SIRT) led by CSP Abba Kyari yo combat the hoodlums. Less than 48 hours after, Kelly Fotor, a top-ranking commander of a militant group was arrested in Delta State after he featured as a special guest in a wedding ceremony. He was said to have given the names and details of all those who participated in the Lagos and Ogun bank robberies before he died of bullet wounds. Fotor, who was arrested, a day after the Agbara incident, told the police that Million was the one who disguised as a woman during the operation. Several others, including a serving policeman and military personnel were nabbed when some of the arms used during operations were traced to the gang members.
It was also gathered that Abanana who had been on the wanted list of the Police, attracted the attention of the Lagos State command when he was accused of being behind several cases of kidnapping in the state.
Recall that in 2012, several persons were abducted and taken to Delta State through Ikorodu waterways. Families of the victims were forced to travel to Warri to pay ransom before their loved ones could be released.
Investigations revealed that Million was declared wanted by a former Lagos State Commissioner of Police, Umaru Manko in December 2012 after he led a four-man gang of kidnappers to abduct a former Majority Leader of the Lagos State House of Assembly, Tofeeq Adeniji, in Lagos and taken to Delta State, following which he demanded N30 million as ransom.
In 2013, it was reported that four members of the gang including one of its financiers, were also arrested by men of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad, SARS, of the Lagos police command after which they took the SARS operatives to a mansion on 15B Fokade Street, Okuatata, Effurun, Ugboro suspected to belong to Abanara.
The officer-in-charge of SARS in 2012, Abba Kyari and his team, mounted surveillance on the house. When the policemen finally struck, Abanara, escaped.
Thereafter, he went underground and smartly relocated his family to a rented apartment in Warri, Delta State. After the arrest of his boys and the Police got tired of looking for him, he relocated to Lagos in 2013.
Abanana at no point, during interrogation, denied his involvement in the bank robberies but insisted that he did not participate in the Lekki operation. “Like I said earlier, by the time I came to Lagos, it was a week after the Lekki robbery. I was co-opted into the group after that robbery. Let them check the CCTV footage which I learnt is with the Police, you will not see me there. I heard about the robbery but I was not part of it. I made N1.7million from the two Ikorodu robberies. Agbara was the highest because I got N2.5miilion as my share. Normally, after each operation, we will deduct the operational cost before sharing among the groups that participated. This cost includes refunding the owners of those cars that we used. We normally set them on fire so that the Police cannot trace us through them. I’m just an independent striker because of my experience”, he said.
On the series of kidnapping and death of security men, the suspect explained that he never participated in such. “I am not based in Lagos, I only come around, work a bit and return to Delta.”
He claimed that it was not part of his lifestyle to kill people during any robbery incident. “I was well trained and I’m one of the best marksmen that were trained by Tompolo and Ateke Tom. They knew my capacity and that was why they called me to join them. If anyone was killed in the process, then it was stray bullet that hit the person. I do not kill and I frown against it.”
On the 2012 kidnap incident in Lagos, he said “heaven knows that I am innocent. I am not a saint but I was not part of the group that was coming to Lagos to kidnap people and bring them back to Warri. One of the boys that were arrested is my first cousin. He came to my house and asked me to lend him N300, 000 to buy Cotonu boat. Cotonu has the best boat that can withstand any kind of weight. I thought he wanted to use the boat for something else till he was caught.
“It was then that I knew that he actually used the boat to carry people that were kidnapped from Lagos to Delta. I was shocked especially when he told the police that I was his sponsor.
My informants told me that he called my name, so I decided to stay away from my beautiful house. As if I knew, the next day, policemen stormed my house and sealed it off.
He took advantage of my goodness to accuse me falsely. In my community, I am well known because I am generous.”
On the source of his wealth through which he built such a magnificent house, Abanana laughed and said. “You need to go and see the structure I have on ground. You cannot use N800, 000 to build a house. I was into crude oil business; I had an illegal local refinery where I was producing at least 500 of fuel drums in a day.
“I only joined John Togo to rob a bank in Port Harcourt before we joined the amnesty programme. The day we dropped arms, we were sent to Calabar for training and placed on N65, 000 salary per month. After then, I never robbed any bank till I came to Lagos.”
On what has become of his former boss, Million said that he was killed by the Federal Government for failing to drop arms after the amnesty. “John Togo was the one who hired me to join him to rob a bank in Port Harcourt. After accepting amnesty offer, he dropped some of the arms and kept the majority. He was not satisfied with what government gave him, that was why he went back to crime. They found him and killed him.”
According to Million, Delta State became too hot for him after he was declared wanted. “I know that their focus was on Delta State, so I decided to relocate to Lagos. My wife ran away with the children after the Police raid. She only kept in touch when it was time to pay school fees. Initially, I did not come to Lagos to rob anyone. I learnt that the fuel business was booming in Lagos especially in Ikorodu area. My friend, Kakadu invited me over that I cannot be arrested in Lagos. I bought several jerry cans and started the business. Pipeline vandlaization is for small boys but since I needed to survive, I had to do the job that was available.
“The camp in Ikorodu is controlled by Ossy and if you want to vandalize pipelines, you must settle him, if not, he will not allow you to work. It was easy to blend with them since they knew my records in Delta state.
“During one of our regular meetings, Ossy told me to come and join forces with him. He said that he wanted to get security work in Lagos State. He said the fastest way was to cause trouble in the state and NNPC would employ his company to guard the pipelines. He believed that if we should cause serious trouble, they would locate him and give him the job.
“Naturally, if he gets the job, the money NNPC would be paying him would be more than enough to stay away from crime. I told him that I was not going to be part of it. I made that decision because I was one of the hit men that served Ateke, Tompolo and Young Shall Grow before they accepted amnesty form the Federal Government. We served them and they became generals. I told him that the time of militancy when we served Ateke, Tompolo and the Young shall Grow, we served them and they became generals .The kind of money that the generals collected was too much, my God! We were only given N65, 000 a month after carrying gun sfor them, he disclosed.
“This was the reason why initially, I told Ossy that I did not want to help him to cause trouble and at the end of the day, I would not gain anything. We discussed this issue for several days and I changed my mind when they assured me that whatever we got would be shared equally. I promised myself that as soon as I collected small money, I would leave the camp and start a legitimate business. I am here now because of bad friends,” Million said, smiling.
Million under siege
Recalling the robbery incident in his house, Million, laughing out loud said that he had to call the Police and army to help him when robbers visited his house. “I was in the house when they started screaming, that I should prepare that they are coming to rob me. I have strong gate that will be difficult for anyone to enter easily. When I heard their voice I called my brother who is a police inspector to come to my rescue, I also alerted some military guys that I know to come to my rescue.
“It was when they started breaking the wall that I knew that it was time for me to run. I scaled the fence and on my way I met some of the bad boys. It was dark so they never knew that I was the one. They thought I was one of them, and asked if the operation was going smooth and I answered yes. I know that they will not kill my wife and children.”
Believe it or not, Million claimed that he decided to repent on New Year day last year. “After the Agbara robbery and I heard that policemen died, I was touched because my elder brother is a policeman. With the money I saved from the various robberies, I decided to go back to my crude oil business especially when I learnt Kelly Fotor, a general had been arrested. I knew it was time to gradually stay away from Lagos. Unfortunately, in November, I was cooking (locally producing diesel) about 500 drums of crude oil when I lost everything in a fire incident. Ossy and Kakadu warned me to be careful that Police was gradually picking our members. I sold my Toyota highlander SUV and decided to relocate to Benin and start timber work. I had to rent a clean house at Osayende estate that befits my status. I bought several motor saws and hired labourers who were doing the job. I had decided that nothing would take me back to Lagos, but later in November, Ossy called me that they wanted to attack another bank in Lagos and that the police were no longer looking for them. I told them that I was not interested. I guess they were still waiting to pick someone as good as I am before they could strike or they assumed that I will give Police information.
“On New Year day, I went to church in Benin and it was then that I decided to give my life to Christ. To prove that I was serious, I broke the two SIM cards that I had with me. If I have not repented, nothing would make me give you all these information. I need you to help others to also repent.”
Meanwhile, to the Ogbinbirin community in Delta State , Million as he is popularly known is the Ibimieowei 1 of Ogbinbirin, Warri North. “I am very nice and generous to people, that was why they gave me that title which means someone that does good. I was given the title in 2014, because of my numerous achievements in the community.”
I never knew my husband was a criminal -Wife
Mrs. Abanara who was also arrested claimed that she did not know that her husband of 16 years was an armed robber. “I am aware that he is a militant and was also happy when he accepted amnesty. I’m aware that he cooks and sells crude oil which was a very good source of money for us. I believed that our house in Delta was built from proceeds that he made from selling black oil.
“In 2013, people were calling me that my husband’s name was in the newspaper. I confronted him and he told me that he is not the only one that answers Million. Even when the Police came and seized our house in Delta, he told me that it was his cousin that he lent money to that gave his name out. After they seized our house, I had to sell the only car he bought for me to start a business. This is the end of this marriage; I cannot continue to risk the life of my children because of him,” she stated.
Culled from Sun Newspapers