• I get N1000 per trip – fake soldier
By Evelyn Usman and Faith Ake
CLAD in a complete Military regalia, 24-year-old Ugochukwu Iheanacho would not have passed for a fake soldier to any discerning person . From his stern looks to his less warm approach towards ‘bloody civilians’,residents of Muyibi street in Olodi Apapa area of Lagos,where he residents , concluded he was a personnel of the Nigerian Army and accorded him the honour due to a Military personnel.
But alas! The father of one was discovered to have merely been parading himself as a Soldier. His true identity was revealed last week following his arrest over an alleged theft at a friend’s apartment. A mild drama was said to have played out when policemen came to effect his arrest. Eye witnesses told Crime Alert that Iheanacho who boasted that he could not be arrested by the policemen, put up resistance, during which he allegedly fought with the policemen.
Escort of vehicles
But he was over powered and whisked to the station , where it was discovered during interrogation that he was not a soldier as claimed afterall. In this interview with Crime Alert, Iheanacho said he used the uniform to escort vehicles to different parts of Lagos and beyond. He stated that he was not alone in this, revealing that both dismissed Military personnel and Policemen converged somewhere around Orile area of the state ,where drivers come to pick them as escorts. He further disclosed that fight sometimes broke out between the ‘hustlers’ during argument on who should accompany a particular vehicle.
According to the Imo state born , “ I used the uniform as escort. I do not rob with it. I am not alone in this. If you go to Orile as early as 4am, you will see both dismissed soldiers and policemen including those still in service and Merchant Navy officials waiting for their turns. Drivers pay us N1000 for each trip. Some even escort vehicles outside Lagos State. The amount for that is much. But I do not go beyond Okokomaiko because I am familiar with policemen along the route”.
Asked where he got the inform, he replied “A friend named Orji, gave it to me. He is serving in the Nigerian Army He thought I was a naval personnel. Initially I was riding motorcycle. But my motorbike was seized by policemen.
Commercial bus drivers
I tried to use my Secondary School Certificate to get a job in order to take care of my wife and six months old baby but that turned out to be a herculean task. I could also not raise money for any trade, as there was nobody to loan me some money “I was left with no other option than to join others at Orile to ‘hustle’. Nothing in life comes easy. At Orile, where we converge to be hired by commercial bus drivers , if one did not come early, he won’t get any bus to join as an escort.
At times, fight broke out between dismissed and serving soldiers over who to join which vehicle. For instance, if one did not come early, another person would take over the absentee’s regular bus. But trouble usually erupted when the new person would refuse to leave the space for the original escort when he comes back.
Again, if one did not come early, another person automatically joins the absentee’s regular bus driver. However when the absentee arrives, he would expect the new person to vacate the front seat for him. This situation usually resulted in a heated argument and possible fight. The fight is mainly because of the amount one gets.
“ For instance , we get N1000 per trip. At times, one could cover five or even ten trips per day , depending on how lucrative business was. Hiring our services is an added advantage for drivers because it prevents them from paying policemen on the way . It also prevents them from paying dues to agberos( motor park touts )
“I have written the Nigerian Army examination twice but did not pass. Things was going on well for me , as i could put food on my family’s table with the money i made as an escort, until my friend set me up. He accused me of being among those who burgled his apartment,thereby leading to my arrest “. The suspect according to the Lagos State Commissioner of Police, Mr Fatai Owoseni , would be charged to court.