29.07.2023 Exclusive EXCLUSIVE: Evasive Kwara Car Theft Ringleader Fingered in FIJ’s Investigation Arrested

Published 29th Jul, 2023


Ajadi Habeeb, a suspected leader of a highly sophisticated robbery syndicate which has its base in Kwara State but extends to other parts of Nigeria’s north central, has just been arrested, FIJ can report.

He’s been evasive since February 2020 when two car robbery suspects,  John Opagbile and Charles Oluwatuyi, fingered him as their gang leader during police interrogation at the Kwara State Police Command.

Six accounts at Zenith bank, United Bank of Africa and Guaranty Trust Bank linked to his name had been placed under banker’s order to facilitate his quick arrest.

Copy of the bankers' order issued over Ajadi Habeeb's account
Copy of the bankers’ order issued over Ajadi Habeeb’s account in February 2020

The first attempt to bring him to custody in March 2020 failed, even though he sustained a conspicuous injury on his arm, and a gunshot injury from another incident.

Our investigation in February 2021 had revealed that some senior police officers in the state’s command had compromised further investigation into the car theft network in Kwara because of ties with Habeeb.

READ ALSO: EXCLUSIVE: Car Theft Gang Leader Evading Arrest in Kwara Sighted in His House

On Wednesday, the police was notified after Habeeb was found on the premises of the United Bank for Africa (UBA) branch on Unity Road, Ilorin, the state’s capital.

At about 3 pm same day, he was arrested by police officers attached to this bank from Area A Police Division and taken to the command headquarters.

Flanked by two officers, Inspector Joshua Lawal and Sergeant Sola Alabi, Habeeb wore a white collar shirt with transparent embroidery dividing the left and right sides of the chest.

He had a full-grown mustache, a broad beard and a forehead bruise. He is said to be a Muslim who once lived with his family in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital, 175 kilometers away from his Ilorin house.

A few weeks after the exposé by our ex-reporter Gabriel Ogunjobi, Habeeb was again spotted at his Ilorin house previously under locks, packing some properties, including furniture.

This journalist immediately notified the Kwara State Police Command but no effort was made to that effect.

His investigation had explicitly established that Glorious Babatunde and Shola Akano, the two policemen that investigated Ajadi’s crime syndicate, brought in suspects and recovered five vehicles from Nasarawa, were maliciously dismissed from the force.

READ ALSO: Two Policemen in Kwara Busted a Car Theft Ring. Their reward? A Sack!

Ogunjobi has been challenging the police over the conspiracy that led to the dismissal with a series of follow-up reports to his first exposé

And for the first time since their dismissal in 2020, Muyiwa Adejobi, Force Public Relations Officer, released an official statement on July 18, 2023, about the panel constituted to look into the dismissal of these policemen.

On Twitter, Ogunjobi rebutted Adejobi’s statement affirming an indictment of the ex-policemen: “In the spirit of transparency, I’ll like the Force to make full disclosure on the proceedings that reviewed and upheld the dismissal verdict in Abuja so the public can have confidence in it. For the record, I do NOT believe this statement. That’s why I’m asking these questions.”

One of the ten questions he specifically demanded answers to was the whereabouts of Habeeb.

Whilst speaking with FIJ on Thursday about Habeeb’s eventual arrest, he maintained that “his arrest is a very good development but just one of the concerns I am still raising with the police”.

“I hope that a lot more will be unraveled if the police are honest in investigating Ajadi. But I must warn that there are still a number of officers in the command who have a friendly relationship with the suspect and must either be distanced from the case or closely watched,” said Ogunjobi.

“Adegboyega Oyeleye, the new Deputy Commissioner (in charge of) Criminal Investigation Department is likely going to be cross-examining the arrested suspect, but he himself is of questionable character.”

Akano, one of the dismissed policemen, is hoping that Ajadi’s arrest will finally vindicate the duo.

He believes he has everything it takes to ensure the just prosecution of Ajadi, being an inspector that took the fall for exposing a cover-up in the command.

Ajayi Okasanmi, the police public relations officer in Kwara, neither confirmed the arrest nor gave details about the prosecution.

For the record, this paper understands that the car robbery case involving Habeeb is yet to be closed.

Sources in possession of classified documents said at least 30 vehicles were found to have forged documents during the Nasarawa interrogation.

This reaffirmed FIJ’s findings that one of the seized vehicles was secretly released to Habeeb’s gang while Babatunde and Shola, the investigators in charge of the case, were being tried in March 2020, before the Kwara State Police Command was forced to auction the rest.

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Published 29th Jul, 2023



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