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NIGERIA: General Overseer Held For Robbery Begs Church Members for Forgiveness

The General Overseer, Pastor Ibikunle Olanrewaju JohnPastor Ibikunle Olanrewaju John, 37, is the General Overseer of ‘The Way of Joy’ church, located at the Ikotun Egbe area of Lagos State. He is among seven suspected robbers arrested over the robbery at Murtala Mohammed International Airport, which occurred on March 13, 2013. Two policemen were killed during robbery and several citizens injured.

John has a sinking look on his face as he stared at all the swarming faces before him. For some time now, he had been living a double life: that of a robber at night and a minister of God during the day.Detectives investigating his involvement in the robbery alleged that he is the armourer to the gang and had taken part in a lot of robberies with the gang.

He confessed without batting an eyelid: “Of course I used to mount pulpit and preach to the congregation. All I can say right now is that members of my church should forgive me! I don’t keep guns for the gang. It’s Asiwaju that used to keep the guns in his farm.”

Other members of the gang are Atoba Adeniyi, Ibrahim Abullahi, Kazeem Aderibigbe, Saheed Adekunle, Christian Joshua and Saheed Okunola. The kingpin, identified as one Paul, was said to have been killed in shootout with policemen at VGC area of Lekki, Lagos State. Paul was killed with another member of his gang.

The gang of robbers were also said to be the same bandits that attacked a Bureau De Change last year (2012) at the same airport, carting away dollars valued at over N600 million in February 2012.

Explaining his role in the gang, Pastor John said that he used to help them with ‘oath taking.’ He however insisted that the oath was not to make the robbery successful, but that nobody should tell the leader of the gang, Paul, that they were about to embark on the operation at the MMIA.

He said: “I have known Paul for year now. He used to come and meet me at my church. Initially, I didn’t know he was a robber, but he later confided in me. There was nothing I could do. I couldn’t run to police and tell them. Paul is a wicked man. The only role I played was to make them take oath on the day they were going for the robbery that nobody should tell Paul about the robbery.

“When they came back from the robbery, they gave me N500,000.”

Ibrahim Abdullahi, who said he is an ex-convict, frankly admitted to have been the person who gave the information to the gang on February 2012, on how the gang could attack the airport Bureau De Change and make away with whooping sum of money. The information was solid. When the gang attacked, they went away with $2 million.

He said: “I saw the Bureau De Change operators, wheeling money in wheelbarrows. It occurred to me that they were not even using policemen to guard this money.

I told my friend, Kazeem, what we saw. He was the one who arranged for the attack. But I don’t know anything about this year’s robbery at the airport. After the last year robbery, they gave me N1.5 million, which I used to open a shop and started selling phone accessories.”Adekunle Saheed said he was not a robber, but was forced to join the gang because he walked into his boss, Esho, planning robbery with his gang. He used to work as one of the workers on Esho’s farm.

He said: “When I walked into them, my boss now told me that they needed me to do something for them.

I had seen guns and I couldn’t say no. I asked what they wanted me do. They said I would have to drive them to the airport. It was Pastor, who brought out something…it was a big gun, covered with some things and several needles. He said I should swear not to leak the secret of what I had seen. I took the oath.

“On the robbery day, we got to the airport by 6pm. I was asked to park at the car park, while Pastor went out to act as the look out. He was watching the road. Later I heard shootings. It was heavy. I lay on the ground. We escaped and got to Ijebu-Ode. They gave me N5,000.”Saheed Okunola, brother to Esho, who was killed in the airport robbery of March 13, 2013, vehemently denied being a robber. He said he was a tanker driver. According to him, he did not even know that his brother was a robber.

Okunola said: “Saheed Adekunle is my brother’s farm manager. He told us that my brother went out with a friend and since had not returned. We started looking for him. Saheed later called me that I should come and pick my brother’s car, which was with him. I had already collected the space wagon and was at home when policemen came to arrest me.”

Atoba Adeniyi confessed that he used to prepare charms for the gang whenever there was going to be a robbery operation.

He revealed that he was with gang last February 2012 when they attacked the international airport. His share of the loot was N450,000 and in the robbery operation of March 13, 2013, he got N500, 000.

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