A 'notorious' stolen phone buyer has been caught at the popular Computer Village in Lagos state.
According to a report by Punch Metro, a phone dealer, Yusuph Da-Silva, 28, who allegedly specialised in buying stolen mobile phones from armed robbers, cultists and pickpockets operating in Ogun and Lagos state, has been arrested.
After almost three months of manhunt, the suspect was last week Wednesday arrested by the decoy team of the Lagos State Rapid Response Squad over a robbery incident around Ifako-Ijaiye, where mobile phones, laptops and other valuables were snatched from their owners at gunpoint.
Da-Silva, popularly called Da-Gold in the Computer Village, Ikeja, and Ifako-Ijaiye areas, was said to have been on the run since the police began a crackdown on the gangs supplying him with mobile phones.
The suspect told the investigators that he bought over 30 phones a week and was making between N25,000 and N30,000 daily from dealing in stolen phones.
He also confessed to have maintained links with three armed robbery gangs, who constantly supplied him with stolen phones and other valuables.
The first gang, according to him, consists of Abiodun Tajudeen, aka Shalori; Drey and Moshood Akinwande, aka Orobo, who rob with a motorcycle.
The second gang, he stated, was made up of Ay and his cohorts, while the third was led by one Idaso, adding that the two gangs specialised in robbing residents at gunpoint in the Fagba, Iju Ishaga, Oke Aro and Ifako areas.
Da-Silva said he used to sell some of the phones at the Computer Village, while the others were taken to Kwara, Osun and Oyo states to make the tracking of the stolen phones difficult for security operatives.
According to the RRS, Tajudeen and Akinwande sold some phones and other valuables to Da-Silva earlier this year, which eventually led to the latter’s arrest.
Investigations revealed that both Tajudeen and Akinwande were presently in police custody for different robbery cases.
Da-Silva said the police team in Magbon arrested Ay’s gang members, who identified him as the receiver of all their stolen phones and after his arrest, seven smartphones were recovered from him.
He stated, “After Ay’s gang members were arrested, I resolved to wearing hoody sweatshirts, which I used to disguise in order to avoid security agents from identifying me.
“I have different colours and designs of the hoody sweatshirts and I often avoid some areas to prevent getting arrested while I continue in my business.”
It was gathered that Da-Silva stayed around the Fagba railway line, where the stolen mobile phones were first brought to before they would be taken to the Computer Village, Ikeja, for sale to retailers.
Da-Silva confessed, “I deal in smartphones. I have been a phone technician at the Computer Village, Ikeja, since 2012. When I realised that it wasn’t yielding enough money, I developed links with networks of boys on the streets, who ensured steady supply of phones to me. I wipe or flash the phones before selling them. I don’t collect the SIMs.
“They bring them to me daily. I get up to six or seven smartphones from them on a daily basis and I sell them to my customers in the Computer Village.
“The sale of those phones fetched me between N25,000 to N30,000 daily. I don’t bother to ask them about how they get the phones, because they had told me before that they were obtained through ‘stop and search’, meaning that they robbed their owners.
“I am not a robber. I have never followed them to rob. What I was doing before was Internet fraud until I started buying stolen phones from these guys.”
The Police Public Relations Officer in the state, Bala Elkana, said the suspect had been transferred to the Special Anti-Robbery Squad for further investigation.