A 24-year-old driver accused of stealing his former boss’s car, TVs and a pet dog has told police investigators that the Christmas needs of his siblings pushed him into the stealing.
Abass Ope, an indigene of Ogun State, was arrested at the Ojuelegba area of Lagos by the decoy team of Rapid Response Squad(RRS) of the State Police Command on Boxing Day.
The police said in a statement on Sunday that the suspect was caught while trying to sell off his boss’s Toyota Avensis 2013 model with the registration number AGL 734 AR for N2 million.
Arrested along with him were three of his friends: Balogun Oluwaseun (23); Sanni Azeez (23) and Stephen Ewiele (22).
Mr. Ope had during Christmas period raided his former boss’s Magodo home while the latter and his family were holidaying in Delta State, with an accomplice, to move a 100 inch LCD TV, a 42 inch LCD TV, a dog, a suitcase, two DSTV decoders, and a Toyota Avensis.
It was learnt that the suspect invaded the home of his former boss after learning that he had travelled to Delta State for the Christmas holiday, and that the gatekeeper had also gone to church.
The police said the suspect was aware of where his former boss usually kept keys to his rooms which made it easy for him to enter the house.
On hearing about his missing properties, the owner of the house called Mr. Ope several times but the suspect denied knowledge of the incident, forcing his boss to cut short his holiday in Delta with his family to report the incident at Magodo Police Station.
Speaking to police investigators, Mr. Ope said he took the car because he had no money to take care of himself and his younger ones.
“They had no clothes, no shoes and this is Yuletide season. They looked up to me to take care of these expenses,” the suspect said.
“It was about three months now that I left Mr. Ekinodo (his former boss). I had worked for him for four years before leaving him on August, 2016. I left because he had a little challenge and things were pretty tough for him. I left so that he could have himself sorted out.”
Mr. Ope described his former employer as “very nice boss to work with,” adding that he enrolled him into university but he couldn’t continue his education after leaving him.
“While he had this challenge, he owed me 8 month salary, this prompted me to take his property and the vehicle,” he said.
“The auto dealer wanted to pay N2 million for the car but I insisted he pays N4 Million because I know it is worth more than that.
“He offered me N1 million instantly and that the balance would be ready in about few minutes time, but I decided to ignore the offer hoping that the dealer would call me back for a re-negotiation”.
“I went back to Ojuelegba few hours later in company of three of my friends, that was when RRS operatives arrested us.”
Ekinodo Ifoghale, Mr. Ope’s former boss, said he was in shock because he treated his former driver as a son.
“Apart from my wife, he was the closest person to me,” Mr. Ifoghale said.
“This is a guy that did my shopping for me. Even, before I buy anything for myself, I bought for him first”.
“How can I owe him 8 – month salary when he never worked for me in those periods? Did he inform me that I owed him? He was never in my house in the periods he claimed.
“I called him more than twice when I got the report of the break in. He told me he knew nothing about it. If he had told me he needed money, I would have given him because we were still very close despite the fact that he was no longer working for me.”
Confirming the incident, Dolapo Badmus, the State Police Public Relations Officer, advised members of the public to always do a background check of their domestic servants so as not to expose themselves to criminals.
The police said the suspects have been transferred to the State Criminal Investigation Department, Yaba, for further investigation.