Investigations have revealed that Agba, the notorious carjacker that shook Ibadan some years ago is back on the prowl. His boys are back in operation and just like it happened when they terrorized the Oyo State capital two years ago, people in Ibadan and environs no longer feel safe to drive.
Agba’s name came up again after the police arrested some suspects in connection with a car snatching incident in Ibadan. A Toyota Corolla which had been snatched at gun point around Apata area was seen by the owner in Bodija and he promptly alerted the police. The car was thereafter recovered.
The owner of the car disclosed told the police that he was told that his car was sighted around Mokola but before he could get there, it had been moved to Bodija. “I called the Officer-in-Charge, Skynet, Inspector Usman Dimka, and informed him about it. He went there with me and we lay in wait for the person who drove it there. The man emerged at around 6.30p.m. and he was arrested”, he said.
He stated that on the day he was dispossessed of the car, he left his office around 7. 30 pm and just as he was about to open the gate of his house in Apata, he was accosted by two men who were later joined by four others. He said all the men held pistols and ordered him to lie down in the compound. They later led him into his house where they packed household items including his flat screen television and all the money he had on him. They then drove away in his car.
Fatai Bello, the buyer of the car claimed he was never aware the car was stolen. He said “I went to Agba’s car shop at New Garage to purchase a Tokunbo car. He sold the Corolla for me for N2million. He told me that he would help me to get the number plate and I felt it would be a relief for me. He did and I collected the car. I was to give him a balance of N50,000. I left my shop at Bodija on Tuesday, November 6 and was about to start the car when the police arrested me. I told them that I could take them to where I bought the car. I called him that I wanted to give him the N50,000. He asked me to come and meet him in the shop but by the time we got there, he had left. We only met his staff.”
Tunde Lawal, a 43-year-old car dealer in Oke Ado who was also arrested in connection with the incident disclosed claimed he was given some money and complete custom papers of the vehicle by Agba so that he would help him register the vehicle in Lagos so that it would bear a Lagos plate number. Lawal said “I went to Lagos, got the number plate and handed them over to him. The following day, I was called from Lagos to return the number plate because the vehicle had been registered before. I was told that it was just detected because when I came, there was poor network. Immediately I told Agba, he started avoiding me. Later, I learnt that the vehicle was stolen when the police came to arrest me. When the police were around, he called and warned me that if I should open up to them, he would kill me. I didn’t know about his shady operations. That would be the first time I would be helping him to get plate number.”
Adebayo Ahmed, another suspect however revealed holes in the claims made by Lawal. 22-year-old Ahmed revealed that he had been sent to Lawal by Agba on three different occasions to collect number plates of vehicles. Ahmed said he runs errands and washes cars. He said Agba had once sent him to go and help him sweep his house in Apata.
The police have been able to recover ten other vehicles of different models from Agba’s shop in New Garage and investigations are currently going on to ascertain whether the vehicles were stolen or legitimately purchased.
Meanwhile, the stolen Toyota Corolla as of the time of theft had the registration number AE 386 VGJ but by the time it was recovered, the number had become KRD 195 AY. The date of registration was October 23rd, a week after it was stolen from the owner.
Incidentally, from the narration of the experiences of most victims of car snatching in Ibadan, it could be deduced that a “six-man gang” did most of the carjacking jobs in the city in the last one and a half years. And most of the robberies followed same patterns. Victims were either trailed to their gates or when vehicles are snatched on the road, the victims would be compelled to ride with them for a distance after which they would be pushed off on motion. Some victims were even stripped naked to prevent them from getting help easily.
About three years ago, Street Journal had reported the arrest and detention of Fatai Abubakar after some stolen vehicles were found in his possession.
The Man Fatai Agba
Street Journal’s investigations revealed that the tall young man known as Agba was born as Fatai Abubakar about thirty three years ago and he has been in the business of selling cars for about eight years. He is not unknown all around the automobile market in Ibadan. Before he opened his auto shop in New Garage, he was one of the biggest car dealers in Oke Ado.
He lived in Liberty Road as a much younger fellow and when business started booming, he built himself a good house around Apata.
Agba means different things to different people. Before his arrest in 2009, many in the Oke Ado axis where he held sway for a few years saw him as a big boy and successful young man. To others however, he is a man whose character and ethics are questionable. Why? While he had his car shop there, he was about the only dealer in Oke Ado who rode brand new cars. Street Journal gathered that his lifestyle exhibits a blatant display of opulence.
Before his trouble with the law then, findings revealed that the boys who worked for him were at the receiving end of his benevolence in terms of a tastefully furnished apartment he gave them in Gbekuba area of Apata. His deep pocket too was not really a secret; investigations revealed that one of his bank accounts back then had a balance of N 38 million while another had about N 14 million.
One of the many signs of his deep pocket which he flaunted at will was his parting gift to his former girlfriend, the daughter of Iya Ila, a famous restaurateur around Molete. When it became clear to the parties concerned that the romance was not going to lead to the altar as thought, he reportedly gave the lady a gift of a Mercury Villager.
And when he was granted bail after his release, it was like a carnival the first time he showed up around Molete. He made sure all those who came around to greet him had drinks of their choice.
Street Journal checked Agba’s records as a car dealer; findings revealed that he actually started as a “crosser”, that is, someone who helps people bring vehicles in across the border, especially from Cotonou. Over time, he started having his own vehicles which he put on display. It was also gathered that in his first auto shop, just behind a major fast food outlet in Oke Ado, he has a panel beater cum painter, a rewire and an upholsterer. Back then, it was insinuated in some quarters that the panel beater’s job was to ensure that colours of vehicles were changed, that of the rewire was to disable all security systems while the upholsterer worked on the interior of the stolen vehicles.
How He Was Caught In 2009
Back in mid 2009, some suspected armed robbers were apprehended after an unsuccessful attempt to snatch a Volkswagen Tuareg jeep around Mokola. In the course of interrogating them, the two robbers were said to have divulged that Fatai Agba was a major customer of theirs.
On the 19th of May too, a gold coloured Honda Accord (End of Discussion) was snatched at gun point around NTC Road, Ibadan. The car was brought in from Lagos that day for a prospective buyer on request and the incident happened not quite 20 minutes after the dealer who brought it from Lagos closed from work and was driving the car home. Findings also showed that the robbers dropped the 2003 Toyota Camry they came in after snatching the Honda. After the matter was reported to the police, it was discovered that the Camry belonged to The Polytechnic, Ibadan and that it was snatched around the Ashi-Bashorun end of Ibadan.
After the Tuareg issue, Agba reportedly ran to the Police Command (Zone 11) to meet one Mr Oketunji, a senior police officer. Street Journal gathered that when he had a similar problem in the past, the issue was allegedly resolved by Oketunji and all his vehicles were reportedly released to him. While some sources alleged that about N4 million changed hands, another source disclosed that the said police officer is related to Fatai Abubakar’s wife. Street Journal however gathered that at that point in time, there was little or nothing Oketunji could do as he had been given stern warnings that his job might be on the line if due process was not followed in the case. Sources even revealed that it was the police officer that invited him over before he was subsequently arrested.
On hearing of his arrest back then, his wife to be and her mother went to see him at the Federal Anti-Robbery Squad, Adeniji Adele. Inside sources disclosed that while checking to ensure that they were not there to poison the suspect, items suspected to be charms were found on them. That further aroused suspicion and when the policemen decided to check the car they brought on the suspicion that it could be a stolen vehicle, and if that was the case, it should be impounded, the man who drove them there confessed that the car belonged to him. He continued that the car that was brought by the suspect’s wife and mother in-law was parked in his house in Ikorodu. He confessed that he only did them the favour of driving them to Adeniji Adele.
A police team thereafter went to Ikorodu to see the car. After all checks, they called the SARS in Ibadan. It was discovered that the Honda Accord brought to Lagos by Fatai’s wife was stolen in Ibadan. Though the colour had been changed from gold to black and the seats were now fabric instead of the leather that was there, the chassis number happened to be the same as the one that was snatched at gun point on the 19th of May in Ibadan. Other cars recovered from him included a BMW X 5 jeep, a Honda Accord, Kia Carrence, a Mitsubishi Montero Sport and many more.
What the Dealers Said About Him
A car dealer who spoke on condition of anonymity told Street Journal then that when the Honda Accord was snatched from one of the dealers fondly called Bin Ladin, Fatai Agba was one of the first set of people that went to console him over the loss of the car. According to him, ‘no one had any cause to suspect him because I have met him on the way to Cotonou a number of times. So most of us saw him as a hardworking young man, though we often wonder at his ostentatious lifestyle because we all sell cars and we know what the market is saying at any point in time. ’
Another dealer who is close to the Chairman of the Motor Dealers’ Association disclosed that “Agba is not a car dealer. He is a crosser.” He went further to state that “a crosser can become a dealer, but to achieve that, he must provide a guarantor and two other people who will stand as sureties for him. Such a person will also be on probation for about six months. It is after all these necessary conditions are fulfilled that the association will process a dealer’s license and ID card which are given by the government for him. Agba has not fulfilled any of these conditions. It is just unfortunate that the guy just sits there among our people and most of the cars he sells are stolen. The association is already putting measures in place to forestall a reoccurrence. ”
Many people drew up their conclusions back then. Some opined that a large percentage of the car snatching incidents in Ibadan at that time could be linked to the young man. The reason adduced was that if a car was snatched at Oke Ado and another car snatched at Bashorun was abandoned by the robbers, it could only mean they have a network that cuts across the length and breadth of Ibadan.
… And He Became A Free Man Again!
While the police did their investigations, Agba was in custody of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) and owners of some of the vehicles that were recovered from him came to identify their vehicles.
While he remained in custody, there were allegations that the police compromised as Agba allegedly lived like a king in detention. On the day he was to be paraded at the Headquarters of the Nigerian Police Force in Eleyele, Ibadan, not a few people were surprised to see that Agba was still his clean, chubby self. It was even obvious that he just had a haircut and a complementing shave. His clothes too were crisp and clean, leading to insinuations that he had access to the outside world even while he was “officially” in detention.
It was also alleged that funds were continually drawn from his various accounts while he remained in detention.
By the time he was taken to court, it was alleged that the charges against him were amended to “receiving” of stolen goods and he was eventually let loose. After he was granted bail, his freedom was celebrated then at a night club located at the Sango end of Bodija. He was there with a coterie of friends and he made sure everyone drank to his fill. The same thing happened when he visited a joint off Ring Road. The celebration in Molete too was grand then. He announced his return in a big way and drinks flowed endlessly.