He was sent to school to explore the serene academic environment offered by the university to equip himself with the needed creativity for personal growth and career development but Mari Paul Dirkwa, a final year student of the University of Maiduguri rather veered into criminality.
Mari was known as the “good guy” on campus. Those who knew him said he exhibited rare ingenuity and unmistakable mien of an intelligent young man but little did his schoolmates know that the 29-year-old undergraduate in the department of Business Education also doubled as a car thief having reportedly stolen six cars until recently when the bubble finally burst.
“I have stolen six cars before this recent one. I was trying to open the Honda Civic car when some people saw me but the police arrested me before I could escape,” he told journalists at the state headquarters of the Nigeria Police in Maiduguri. Asked why he ventured into car theft as an undergraduate, Mari said greed and selfish desire pushed him into the criminal act.
“It was selfishness and greed. Each time I stole a car and sold it, I got a lot of money and I felt like stealing another car again. It is greed and I regret my action. I promise I wont do it again when I get off this case,” he said in a sober tone, asking his family for forgiveness. He said he often used a special key he called master key to open cars wherever they are packed, adding that his buyers are mostly in Gamboru-Ngala area in the Nigeria-Cameroon border. “Yes, I know the buyers, they buy the cars and take them off the border in Gamboru area,” he claimed.
Commissioner of Police, Borno state Command, Mr Clement Adoda told journalists the suspect was arrested by a team of police Special Anti-Robbery Squad on patrol along Bama road in Maiduguri while attempting to steal a green Honda Civic car. He said his arrest was possible following a tip off by those who witnessed the attempt to steal the car.
“On interrogation, the suspect confessed to have previously stolen six assorted motor vehicles within Maiduguri metropolis and disposed off the same at different locations within the state,” the CP disclosed but added that it was difficult for the police to immediately trail the buyers due to the insecurity in Gamboru area. Gamboru has been under Boko Haram control for almost two months now. “We are not able to locate the buyers now because of the terrain, I mean the security challenge in the area,” the police boss stated.
Adoda who expressed concern over the involvement of a university undergraduate in such criminal act, said it was embarrassing. “I’m saying this because it baffles me. When something that is supposed to go forward is moving backward, then people should begin to ask question. The university is a place for learning and culture but when an undergraduate now imbibes criminal culture, something appears to be missing,” he said, stressing that he was compelled to bring the incident to public domain to dissuade others from engaging in such criminality. He urged parents and guardians to train their children/wards appropriately to shun crimes. He attributed poor upbringing, influence of bad friends and uncontrolled desire to get rich quick as some of the factors responsible for the involvement of students in criminal acts.
The commissioner said, “Some people in the society have been mounting pressure” on the police to release the suspect but he maintained that he would be charged to court as soon as the police have completed their investigation. The CP listed some of the cases of car theft at the University of Maiduguri as reported to the police. These include six Toyota Carina II with registration numbers Borno AA 283 H, AA 798 KDG, Bayo 313 AA, JRE 739 AA and AG 132 BAM stolen on March 13, April 4, April 10, April 29, May 13 and May 26, 2014 respectively.
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