A nine-man kidnap gang has been arrested by operatives of the Inspector-General of Police, IGP, Special Intelligence Response Team, SIRT, during a five-hour raid in Port Harcourt, Rivers State.
The suspects, responsible for most of the kidnappings that had occurred within GRA Phase 2, Borokiri General Area and YKC axis of Woji area.
Parading the suspects on Saturday, the state police spokesperson, DSP Omoni Nnamdi said investigation on the scale of the operations of the gang was still on, adding that the police was making efforts to arrest the other fleeing members of the gang.
According to him, the raid led to the arrest of Daniel Gabriel (33), Alaso Igodo (25), Akeodi Aselemi (34), Ayibinmotei Livinus (25), Anikuroka Marshal (33), Biebele Elijah (34) Efiye Anda (34), Daniel Lessor (31) and Isaac Reuben (27), all living within the Port Harcourt metropolis.
He said: “The string of events which led to the apprehension of the nine suspects started with the abduction of a woman identified as Mrs. Okotie, who was kidnapped few weeks ago opposite the Royal House of Grace Church in Port Harcourt.
“The gang abducted her in the Mazda car they used as operational vehicle and fortunately for her, the car broke down along the way and the leader of the gang named Blackie, called for another vehicle, a Nissan Primera, which arrived shortly after but they did not know the police had got information about them.
“They were on their way to the Ornage Waterside when our men intercepted them. As soon as they saw us, they fled and abandoned the sick woman in the car along with one of their rifles
“Few days after the botched kidnapping of Mrs. Okotie, SIRT operatives who were following up on a lead, arrested Gabriel, a taxi driver, around 2pm on the said day.
“When Gabriel, an Akwa-Ibom indigene living at Navy Market Borikiri, Port-Harcourt was taken in for questioning, he confessed that he had personally been involved in 15 kidnaps in the last few months in the state, then led the police to his house where five members of the gang were already planning another kidnap.
“We arrested five of his gang members and from there, we proceeded to Enugu Waterfront where we arrested Anikuroka Marshal, the gang’s armourer.
“The suspects also identified Diobele Elijah and Akodi Aselemi as their spies who go around town scouting for victims. They confessed to have three AK47 rifles, two pistols, which they use in their operations.”
According to the report, in one of the kidnaps carried out by the gang, on August 10, 2016, a pastor, Mrs. Luis Ubah and one Mr. Chika Ezenwa were abducted. The same day, the gang kidnapped a business woman, Mrs. Ubah in her store, they also grabbed another victim identified as Ezenwa who was with Ubah at the time.
The four victims were taken by the gang to the Indoki Estate Waterfront and while on their way to the waterfront, the gang encountered a police team and instantly opened fire on the policemen.
Speaking further, the spokesperson said: “Inspector David Ijosi and one Corporal Dike Ledee were injured by bullets in the attack. One was hit in the leg while another was hit in the neck and the kidnappers escaped into the Isaka creeks in Okrika.
“Soon after, the gang made contact with Ubah’s husband, Bishop Prince Ubah, from whom they demanded a N50m ransom for her freedom. During the ensuing negotiation, the ransom for the release of the bishop’s wife was reduced to N2.8m and a place was agreed on for the family to drop the ransom.
“When two brothers of the bishop, Onyeka Ani and Pastor Okezie Akara, took the money to the agreed place on August 25, 2016, 15 days after Mrs. Ubah was kidnapped, the gang members decided to release her along with Ezenwa but kidnapped the two brothers instead.
“They then demanded another N1m ransom from the bishop for his brothers. But N750, 000 was eventually paid for their release.”
In his confession, Gabriel said, “I met the members of the gang in March 2016. I was plying the Aba Road looking for passengers one day when they stopped me and entered my taxi. They asked me to take them to Borikiri in Port Harcourt.
“When we got there, I was surprised that they paid me more than I demanded and I told them that I wanted to know more about them. The leader who sat in front passenger seat then gave me his phone number and said he would like me to work with them.
“Few days later, they invited me to a hotel in Borikiri and told me what they did. In April, Blackie, the gang leader, called and asked that I should meet him in his hotel. When I got there, I met other members of the gang preparing for an operation. They showed me two bags containing guns and put it in my car. I then drove them to GRA in Port Harcourt.
“When we got there, the gang’s informant said we had missed the target, a woman, who had just left the place. While leaving, we saw a man driving a nice car and we kidnapped him. He was taken to the Indoki Estate Waterfront. We put him in a speed boat and took him to a camp across the river.
“We carried out many kidnappings and that in August 2016, when we kidnapped Mrs. Okotie, it was like God just wanted us to be caught. I had no idea what happened to my car, which I converted from a taxi cab to the gang’s operational vehicle.
“When we were intercepted by the police that day, we left one gun in the car while escaping while Blackie escaped with one other rifle. He gave it to one of our boys, who normally kept our rifles. But after I was arrested, I took the police to the boy and they recovered the rifle and my cab.”
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