A police officer who was also a pastor in a Pentecostal church has been arrested for armed robbery in Port Harcourt.
It was the end of the day for a police corporal who also doubled as a Pastor, Chris Oboko, after he was arrested for armed robbery by the Rivers State Police Command, as he has revealed how he operated combined all three professions together.
According to the State Police Command, Oboko who was, until his arrest, was attached to the C4I unit of the Nigeria Police Force in the state, and living in a police barracks on Iche Street, Borokiri, in the Garden City, claimed to be a pastor, and had also served at the Boroki Police Division, before being transferred to the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS).
He confessed while being paraded before newsmen, that an informant lured him into a gang of car snatchers, and he could not simply resist the temptation.
The 35-year-old said that his meeting with two members of a robbery and kidnapping gang, who were in the process of selling the cars they got from one of their victims, turned him into a villain.
"In 2015, I met Johnpaul Amandi, one of our informants when he took two vehicles he stole from one of his kidnapping victims to one Victor Nwogu to sell. I met them while they were negotiating the price and I told them I would join their operation.
After I became a member, I always found a way to get the members of the gang released whenever they were arrested by the police.
I am even the resident Pastor of Battle Axe Assembly Church at Chuba, Allo, in Port Harcourt. I know this business is evil and shouldn’t have joined but I could not resist the temptation.”
Oboko also confessed that he led three other members of the gang to snatch a Toyota Camry at D-Line area of Port Harcourt few months ago, which his gang sold for N200,000, with his proceed from the deal being N70,000.
“On our second operation, three of us stole three Toyota Camry cars from the D-Line motor park in Port Harcourt in a single day.
Victor Nwogu in Owerri is the one that helped sell off the vehicles. He gave us N360, 000 after selling the cars and I got N150, 000 as my share. I remember that we also snatched a Toyota Corolla from Elelanwo area of Port Harcourt.
I pointed a gun at the driver and he ran out of his vehicle. We sold that one for N250,000 out of which I got a share of N80,000. There was a Toyota Spider we also snatched at gunpoint around GRA in Port Harcourt.
We hid it somewhere at Borokiri Sand Field. But before we arrived there in the morning, the car had been removed.
I was the armourer of his gang as I used my police identity to give the members of the gang safe passage anytime we stole or snatched a vehicle."
But Oboko who has now been dismissed from the Force, met his Waterloo with his arrest after weeks of tracking by Inspector-General of Police Special Intelligence Response Team (IRT) operatives, following information given by Amandi who had earlier been apprehended.
Also confessing, Amandi, an indigene of Bayelsa State, said he was a commercial bus driver before he ventured into armed robbery, specialising in car snatching.
He noted that his gang was so good at snatching and stealing cars that on one single night, his second operation after joining the robbery gang, they got five cars.
On how he met with the renegade police officer, the 27-year-old Amandi said:
“Two friends of mine kidnapped a former local government chairman in Bayelsa State and brought two cars taken from the man to me to sell in Port Harcourt.
I had brought two cars to Port Harcourt for sale after we snatched them from Bayelsa. When I was checking the cars in Nembe Waterside, Corporal Oboko and one of his colleagues confronted us and took the cars away from us.
Instead of taking the vehicles to their station, they made it theirs. Three months after that, he saw me on the road and asked me to forgive him and said that he would like me to work with him.
He took me to his boss at C4I and he told him that I was highly resourceful and I could become an informant giving the police information about armed robbers in the state.
His boss told me that if I could assist with information, I would be rewarded well and I accepted. I even gave them information that led to the arrest of big armed robbers in Port Harcourt from whom they recovered arms and ammunition.
After one month of being an informant, Corporal Oboko said one of the cars he took from me was giving him trouble and he needed another car.
He said he needed a brand new car. I told him that I had stopped stealing cars since I had started working with the car snatching gang, but he insisted. He then said I should not worry and said that he would follow me to wherever I wanted to steal the car.
On our first outing together, we stole a Honda ‘End of Discussion’. He gave his father the first car and started using the new one.
He then encouraged that we should go for more robberies because he had seen how easy the first operation was. He also arranged with Victor in Owerri, who received and sold the vehicles for us.
I did many operations in the night with Oboko but whenever I was arrested, Oboko always came to my rescue by simply telling whoever had arrested me that I was an informant working for the C4I.
He was not satisfied with stealing cars in the night as he insisted we do it in the day time as well.
I thought Corporal Oboko was joking but few days after, he brought two pistols to me. He said he bought the guns. We snatched many cars around Port Harcourt, but even though we used to share the proceeds equally in the past, it got to a time that he started to cheat me.
He would sometimes refuse to give me my own share and sometimes, he would not involve me in an operation. He started by-passing me to work with other boys I introduced to him. Not long after that, I was arrested and told the police about him.”
The State Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), Ahmad Muhammad, confirmed the arrest of the officer, adding that efforts are on to arrest other members of the gang, while Oboko would be charged with armed robbery soon.