The police in Lagos State have arrested a 27-year-old robbery suspect, Mohammed Nafiu, who specialised in using monkeys and snakes to dispossess people of their money and valuables.
One of the monkeys was also arrested and is presently in police custody.
Nafiu told the police that apart from the conventional tool (gun) used by most robbers, the sight of a snake or monkey unsettles and scares people. He said he was able to dispossess his victims of their valuables when confronted with these animals, especially fully grown ones.
The Kano State-born Nafiu, and his accomplice, Nura, who is still at large, said they initiated this method of robbery operation some years ago.
“We trained the animals to obey our instructions. On a single command, the animals attack whoever we want to rob and we are able to take whatever valuable they have on them, especially money,” Nafiu said.
Nafiu, who is married with three children, was a farmer and native drug vendor until he came to Lagos about 10 years ago.
“I learnt there were many Hausa people in Lagos, so I decided to come with my monkey which I had been using for monkey shows in Kano,” he said.
A police source said on the day Nafiu was arrested, he and his accomplice had two monkeys in their Nissan Primera and were trailing a man who had just come out of a popular bank in Ogba area of the state. The man was said to be holding a nylon bag containing money.
On sighting their next victim, they quickly went after him, unleashed their two monkeys on him and dispossessed him of N230,000 cash.
Nafiu said, “When we attacked the man, he was overcome with fear, so we collected the money from him. As we were about leaving, having realised what was happening, people started throwing stones and several objects at us. Nobody could move near because they were also afraid of the monkey. Only Nura could escape. When the stoning became too severe, I could not escape and eventually, police came and arrested me and my monkey.”
He said he could have released the monkey to protect himself, but he was afraid that the monkey would injure a lot of people. “I had to endure the attack because of this. I felt safer in the hands of the police than being stoned to death right there,” he added.
He explained that while Nura was escaping with the money, the victim was chasing him, but that in order to stop the man, he took part of the money and threw back the remaining at him so he could get busy picking the few naira notes while he escaped.
Nafiu admitted that he had been using the monkey to rob for some years and that it had injured a lot of people including himself. He showed scratches on his hands which he said were from the animal’s teeth and nails.
“I have made a lot of money using this strategy but this N230,000 was the highest amount I ever got from a single operation. And now I regret what I have done. If I can be set free, I won’t do such again,” the suspect said.
But a police source pointed out that another person had reported to the police that the same gang (Nafiu and Nura) once attacked him with a “big” snake and dispossessed him of some money.
“Nafiu admitted that they had two snakes and two baboons, which they used to scare and harass their victims. One of the monkeys has been arrested and we are still trailing the other suspect and the other animals,” the source said.
As of the time of filing this report, Police Public Relations Officer, Lagos State Command, Mr. Kenneth Nwosu, had yet to reply the message our correspondent sent to him.
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