- Says charms, physical disability aided operations
- Wrote 13 books in prison
As a young physically challenged boy, Amos (not real name) had many privileges that his mates didn’t have. Born in Edinburgh, Scotland he attended some of the best schools in the United Kingdom and made friends with kids from rich homes. Life was perfect and everything was on steady progress until his parents decided to relocate to Nigeria.
As he struggled to adjust to the Nigerian environment, life suddenly took a turn for the worse as his parents decided to divorce. From that moment onwards, Amos’s life went from bad to worse. From pilfering as a teenager, he graduated to a skillful pickpocket and later to full- blown dreaded armed robber leading many highly audacious inter-state robbery operations.
Now a changed man, having served nine years in prison where he gave his life to Christ, Amos shares some of his criminal exploits, his addiction to charms for successful robbery operations, how his physical disability helped him escape robbery scenes, his encounter with God in the prison and how he is now earning a decent living as a fashion designer.
How it started
My life is kind of ironic because I was born with a silver spoon. I was born in the United Kingdom but my parents later relocated to Nigeria. Back in Nigeria, my father divorced my mother and that was when things became tough for me. Things became very difficult because there was no longer fatherly care. My bad side actually began to manifest during my teenage years. I started by stealing little things in the house. Any time I entered any house, I could easily tell the location of anything I wanted to steal and take it without anyone noticing. With time, my stealing went from bad to worse.”
“I always had a strong urge to steal. I was arrested by law enforcement officers for the first time when I was in secondary school. Back then, I combined learning how to sew with schooling. So there was a particular building close to our house back then. I entered the building and while I was trying to steal some items, the house owner met me inside the house. I was arrested and taken to the police station. My father was contacted and he made an effort to release me. My mother also went to appeal to the house owner who later agreed to drop his complaint against me.”
“I continued stealing after that incident but was never caught until several years after I had become a full-time armed robber. I had over 10 successful robbery operations. I also participated in two robbery operations in one of the South-West states. During one of the operations in that state, I was arrested in 2009. One of the guys in my squad stole my gun and used it for operation without my knowledge. During the operation, he was arrested with his gang and he led the police to arrest me as the owner of the gun they used. We were taken to the police station and later arraigned at a magistrate’s court. The case lasted for over three years and since there was no witness to corroborate that the gun used for the robbery belonged to me, I was discharged on May 2, 2012.”
“When I left the prison, there was nowhere to go and no one to turn to. My relatives were not willing to open their doors to me. As a result of their rejection, I decided to return to crime. I was able to get some guns and assembled a new set of gang. We carried out a lot of robberies but during all our operations, we never killed anyone. I have never killed anyone during the operations. My operational style was always to shoot into the air and not at my victims. The shooting was just to create awareness that there is a robbery in progress. I made quite a lot of money during the operations but most of the money was wasted on women and parties.”
Success in evading arrests
“Back then, I was diabolical and secondly, my appearance usually deceived police officers. After any operation, when people are shouting ‘armed robbers,’ ‘thief thief,’ and I am passing, nobody will ever suspect that I am one of them because of my physical disability. They would usually say: ‘This one is disabled so he cannot be an armed robber.’ I also spent a lot of money on charms. One of the charms I always used was called Ewo, meaning ‘do not touch.’ I also had the local bullet proof charm and another one that if the road was not clear or there was danger on the road, it would signal me to either abort the operation or prepare harder. The only kind of robbery that I didn’t participate in was bank robbery.
“People may not believe in charms but I can tell you that it was effective and responsible for most of my robbery operations. Looking back now, I believe that God allowed the charms to be effective so as to preserve me to be able to share my story to the world. If the charms weren’t effective, I would have died. Several times, the police shoot at me directly during operations but nothing happened to me.”
“In 2012, I was invited as a squad leader for a robbery operation in a particular state but because of the signs I saw, I told the squad to lay low within that period. About that time, one of the persons who usually contacted me whenever he needed a stolen car, reached out to me that he had a job for me. When I met him, he told me the type of car that he needed and forwarded some amount of money to me. I decided to do the operation with a guy who was an interior decorator.
“I went to the state for the operation with the guy. When we got to the state capital, it took us time to locate the particular model of car that we wanted but eventually towards evening, we saw the model coming out from a popular store and quickly assembled our guns and went into action. We shot into the air and approached the occupants and ordered them out of the car. We took the car and immediately headed back to our base. Midway into the journey, we discovered that there was no fuel in the car and decided to lodge in a hotel.
“Unknown to us, there was a tracker, the car owners contacted the police and our location was invaded that night. My charmed ring disappointed me in that operation because it kept getting hot and cold. The way it works is that if there is danger, it becomes hot. But this time around, it was alternating from hot to cold. Before I could understand what was happening, at about 2:00am, the police busted our room and arrested us.
“I don’t know how I escaped as they were dragging us down but I suddenly discovered myself on the roadside behind the hotel wearing just a singlet and boxers. The police later claimed that I dissappeared. At a time, I heard a gunshot sound, followed by a loud scream by my gang member and I knew the police had shot him dead. I began to run until in the morning when I met a security guard who gave me some money after I lied to him that I was robbed the previous night. I boarded a vehicle with my scanty clothes back to my base but midway into the journey, an army officer who was in the vehicle and observed my strange look and uneasiness, asked the driver to stop and began to query me. He eventually arrested me and handed me over to a nearby police station where they sent a signal and later confirmed that I was the fleeing armed robber. That was the beginning of my journey to the prison.
Nine years trial
“The matter was in court for nine years and my mother sold all that she had to help pay for legal fees and other things. I also sold most of my things within that period. I believe God helped me throughout the period of the trial for a greater purpose.”
“During that period, I began to fast and pray and ask God for forgiveness for all the atrocities I had committed. A lot of things happened during the trial but God eventually answered my prayers and I was released. ”
Life in prison
“Life in prison is tough and hellish. I believe the Nigerian prison system is only good for stubborn people. Some stubborn teenagers often don’t see anything wrong with their behaviour, so it is good for them to be in prison for a short period so that they can know that what is after six is beyond seven. I also think it is not good for someone to be in prison longer than necessary because sometimes, they acquire negative traits that they didn’t have before. I thank God for his grace because I went into the prison as a terrible person, but came out a changed man.”
Wrote 13 books in prison
“Before I went into crime, one of my hobbies was writing, so when I found myself in prison, I decided that I will use the period to add value to my life. God gave me insight on different topics to write on. While other inmates were busy playing draft, card etc, I was busy writing books. My first book after I gave my life to Christ, was Escape from Crime to Christ, EFCC. The book almost put me into trouble because the prison officers thought the book was about EFCC. I also wrote a book on prison life. I noticed that some prison officers who were supposed to teach and impact values to the inmates, lacked good values and behaviors so I decided to write a book about them. In all, I was able to write 13 books while in prison.
“On April 14, 2015, an NGO came for evangelism in the prison and God used the preacher that day to minister specially to me. I gave my life to God that day and took the decision never to return to crime again. Before that incident, I was a thorn in the flesh of prison officers because of how they were treating inmates. I always troubled them and wrote petitions against them but after my encounter with God, they started to notice changes in my life. Most of them became my friends after my conversion.”
Anchor Heritage intervention
“I believe my going to prison was for a divine purpose because if I wasn’t there, I would not have been able to meet Anchor Heritage – the NGO that God has used to transform my life. Because of my good behaviour, I was recommended by the prison authorities to the NGO. When I left prison, I contacted them and they have been very helpful in transforming my life. Two months after my release, the NGO helped me to rent a shop for my fashion design business. They also helped me to acquire industrial sewing machines and other equipment after facilitating my mentorship programme in a very expensive fashion outfit in Lagos. I will always remain grateful to them for their support and kindness. I am hoping to expand my business for training and reorientating young and vulnerable people that someone can earn a livelihood without delving into crime. I am also using this opportunity to appeal for assistance from members of the public.”
There is no single gain in crime. At the beginning, it might seem sweet with all the enjoyment and money to spend but it is ephemeral. I lost everything that I acquired during my years in crime, including my wife. So I advise those still in crime to quit now.