Gospel Osuala, a 26-year-old apprentice electrician who stole eight prepaid meters in Ondo State, said hunger and desperation drove him to do the crime in Akure on Monday.
Osuala, who was paraded in front of newsmen by the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) alongside two other accomplices, Oladele Ibukun, 42, and Dayo Akinlade, 40, claimed he started stealing two weeks ago.
“I stole eight prepaid meters since my sister’s meter was seized by my ‘Oga,’ who trains me how to do electrical work.
“My sister ejected me from her home due to my ‘oga’s’ behavior.
“I was starving and had no method of fending for myself, so I became furious and stole the meters.
I’m not going to do it again, and I’m sorry I did it in the first place,” he said.
Osuala said that he was only found with three meters because he had sold five of the stolen meters, and that he was admitting so that the case could be resolved quickly.
“With only three meters, I was apprehended. The other five meters were unknown to the NSCDC.
That is why I resolved to confess to everything so that the ones I sold may be recovered.
“I know that if I don’t confess to everything right now, the ones I sold will eventually be tracked back to me, and I don’t want to be imprisoned again,” Osuala stated.
Mr Hammed Abodunrin, Commandant of the NSCDC in Ondo State, told reporters after Osuala’s confession that the suspects were paraded to warn the people about the source of whatever they bought.
“Anyone caught with stolen prepaid meters will be treated as an accomplice because crooks will stop stealing if there are no beneficiaries of stolen goods,” he warned.
He emphasized that getting a prepaid meter is a procedure rather than something you can buy off the shelf.
“We advise members of the public to be cautious about who they patronize in order to obtain prepaid meters because issuance is limited to formed institutions,” Abodunrin said.