By Ekamma UBA, Senior staff writer
FOR a 41 year-old Benjamin Ademola, life is not fair after all! Within a space of time, he had become popular than the word at the Planks market on Okobaba, Yaba Lagos where he trained as buyer of timber. The self acclaimed Diploma holder in Business Administration from the Adekunle Ajasin University, Ondo State who could not pursue his degree programme for paucity of funds was however, moderately rich in his new found career as he soon got married and was doing well. Moved by compassion as one who had tasted the bitter pills of lack, the Okiti Pupa, Ondo State born father of 2, started sponsoring some of his haves not customers; believing that one day, they too would do same to others. But his magnanimity did not pay off as a twist was soon introduced into his lucrative business after some alleged Ijaw customers who he gave money to for an advance supply of timber absconded with his hard earned savings without supplying the goods. Frustrated as he was, Benjamin saw crime as the next available avenue to make quick money. He started patronizing GSM handset thieves and reselling them a price slightly above the cover price. One year into the criminal business, the long arm of the law encysted him and he has this to say: “My name is Benjamin Adekunle, I am 41 years old from Okiti Pupa in Ondo State. I am married with two children. Originally, my job is to buy timber and saw them into planks at Okobaba Saw mill in Sabo Yaba and re- sell and I was doing very well in the business. My travail started about a year ago, after I gave money, about N2m to two of my Ijaw customers, Austin and Mathew who used to supply me timber but they absconded with the money and up till now there is no way to locate them. So, last year, Idris came to me with handsets and I bought them from him and re-sold at the Computer Village Ikeja and I made some good money; that is how I started buying handsets from him. I knew he does not deal on handsets genuinely but I just thought I had to survive the situation praying that immediately I got enough money to start buying timber again, I would stop buying stolen phones and settle down for my timber business proper. I knew that the phones I bought from Idris are stolen ones but I had no option. I regret the whole thing because even my wife is not aware that I buy stolen phones side by side my timber business; it is shameful for me. I promise to leave Lagos state completely if I am left off the hook straight for my village and start life afresh,” breaks down in tears.
On his own part, Idris Balogun, the man who steals the phones for Benjamin blames his involvement in phone theft on a fire incident that gutted his resident and destroyed all his belongings sometime last year. The 26 year old Kwara State born, said he took to stealing phones in clubs to make ends meet. “All this started last year when fire gutted the house I lived in and destroyed all that I had. I therefore, started visiting clubs especially; Badilos Club at Sabo, Yaba to steal patrons’ handsets and sell to Benjamin. I knew what I was doing was bad but I could not help the situation,” he lamented.
But the Commissioner of Police Ag CP Imohimi Edgal said the matter will be thoroughly investigated with a view to arraigning the suspects in a court of competent jurisdiction.
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By Ekamma UBA, Senior staff writer