Smart Crook: How driver stole school bus, re-branded it commercial vehicle

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Eric Effiong and the stolen bus

The police in Lagos have arrested a driver who absconded with a school bus, re-branded it and used same for commercial purposes.

A 32-year-old man, Eric Effiong, has been arrested by operatives of the State Intelligence Bureau (SIB) of the Lagos State Police Command, for allegedly stealing a school bus and re-branding it as a commercial vehicle.

Vanguard reports that Effiong, a father of two, was employed by the Peak Lane International School, Oremeji, Akute, a suburb of Lagos but after working for six years with the school, he absconded with the bus valued at N3.6 million, re-branded it with the logo of the Cross Line and used it for commercial purposes.

His arrest came after the school proprietress wrote a petition to the state Commissioner of Police, CP Fatai Owoseni, forcing the command to swing into action and get him arrested.

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A police source who confirmed the arrest of the suspect said:

“On March 27, 2017, the proprietress of Peak Lane International School, Oremiji Close, Oremiji Estate, Alagbole Akute, reported that on March 7, a driver with the school, Eric Effiong, absconded with one of the buses with number plates SMK 123 EM.”

The suspect, according to the police source, was said to have relocated from his known address and switched off his phone, but the SIB operatives tracked him down in Calabar, Cross River State and arrested him.

"Before his arrest, Effiong had already changed the number plate of the bus, re-branded it with Cross Lines Transportation Company colours and was operating the Calabar-Uyo routes.

The Commissioner of Police has directed that he be charged to court for prosecution."

While confessing to the crime, Effiong said he was broke and needed money to take care of his family.

“I was arrested for stealing a school bus. I was going to drop a passenger when they came down from a taxi and told me I was under arrest.

I really feel bad that this thing happened to me. I just pray my boss would forgive me. While on official duty earlier this year, I hit a child of about one year and broke his leg. I spent over N200,000 to treat the baby.

When I ran out of cash, I began to sell my items to raise money. In the cause of that, my rent expired and my salary was N54,000. Because the school doesn’t give a loan, I became frustrated.

I did not know what to do and decided to abscond with the bus. When I got home with the bus, my parents asked how I came about it. I did not tell them anything.

The bus was already white. I only branded it with Cross Lines Transportation Company because of the police on the road.

It is safer operating under a brand name because it shields one from unnecessary arrests and harassments by security agents.

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I did that without the knowledge of the company. Since I was not operating in their park, it was difficult for them to suspect me.

Apart from that, I only used it for one week because the front tyres were not good. It is not true that I switched off my phone.

Only one of my colleagues called me the first day this thing happened. He asked me where I was. We did not discuss anything.”



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