For 10 years, he was one of the most wanted criminals on the list of the Nigeria Police. Eventually, the long arm of the law caught up with him. As the saying goes, “every day is for the thief, but one day the owner shall triumph.” On the last day of September, he met his waterloo. Once the news of his death broke, people who once lived in terror of him could hardly contain their joy as they embarked on wild jubilation in Rundele Community of Emohua Local Government Area, Rivers State. At last, they had the last laugh. While it is hardly appropriate for a human being to rejoice over the death of another, the news of the demise of Lucifer, a notorious robber kidnapper who had terrorised them with impunity for years, was a glad tiding to the Rundele community. Lucifer, real name Ekweme Ike Brown, had met a fitting end, a live-by-the-sword-die-by-the-sword death in the hands of men of the Nigeria Police in faraway Bayelsa State where he had sought sanctuary.
His death ended a ten-year hunt by security operatives in Rivers State for one of the most deadly criminals that ever terrorised the state.
While alive, the 47-year-old crime kingpin had burnt houses, killed victims and beheaded three men in Rundele, scaring some of the residents to abandon their houses and relocate to nearby communities for safety.
The hunt for Lucifer
Rivers State Commissioner of Police, Mr Dan Daura Mustapha told Saturday Sun, the hunt for Lucifer predated him as Police Commissioner in Rivers State. “When I resumed duty in July, I was told that a notorious kidnapper had been declared wanted for 10 years, that he and his gang had kidnapped over 70 victims and collected several millions of naira as ransom and that he operated within the Eastern Road in Port Harcourt,” Mustapha recounted.
According to the Police, Brown with his gang on seven occasions hijacked 14 seater buses travelling along Port Harcourt and Delta State from 2018 to 2019.
The recurrence left the police no option but to unleash everything in its arsenal. The Command, according to Mustapha, had mapped out strategies to bring Lucifer to book.
“Operation Sting operatives spent the past two months gathering intelligence and monitoring his movement and in time detectives realised that he had relocated to Bayelsa State,” he said.
Operation Sting commander, ASP Shem Evans, stated that detectives tracked him to where he relocated to in Agbia community in Yenegoa LGA of Bayelsa after he fled from Rundele.
“We stormed the community and we had a confrontation with Lucifer and his gang on September 30, 2019, at about 6:25 pm. He was struck by bullets as he attempted to escape by jumping into a swampy. He died on the spot but his gang members escaped with serious injuries.”
Evans stated that the Rundele Community believed Ekweme Brown had spiritual power and was, therefore, invincible. “They told us that we cannot kill him. Even after news of his death circulated, some community members believe he would resurrect. We brought his body to Port Harcourt and the chiefs and elders of Rundele Community came to identify him. When they discovered he was the one killed, they went into wild jubilation.”
The Lucifer gang had reportedly attacked the Army in the past. “We recovered army rifles from him before he was shot dead,” confirmed Evans.
Superintendent of Police Edward Shadare who is the commander of the Anti-Kidnapping Squad, avowed that it became inevitable to declare Lucifer wanted 10 years ago after he had kidnapped over 20 victims in Eleme, Etche and Rundele, usually taking his hostages into the creeks.
In 2017 and 2018, Shadare affirmed, Lucifer and his gang kidnapped five chiefs and two businessmen. After weeks of intelligence, he and his gang were cornered and during a gun duel, his men abandoned the chiefs but took the two businessmen away.
“It took us two weeks to rescue the two businessmen. They moved them to another creek. We rescued them at the cost of serious injuries to one of our officers,” he said.
Jubilation in the liberated community
One of the elders of Rundele Community, Mr Abraham Joseph told Saturday Sun: “We have been in bondage for seven years in the hands of this deadly kidnapper. Before his death, he would appear on market day and forcefully collect everything from market women. We believe so much that he had spiritual power and that nobody could kill, challenge or confront him. He raped our daughters in our presence and burnt down many of our houses. So, when we heard that Operation Sting has killed him, we didn’t believe. The entire chiefs and elders of Rundele Community stormed the Police Command to see for themselves. We identified his corpse, that truly he had been killed. Now, the entire community of Rundele has agreed to give honorary chieftaincy title to the Assistant Commissioner of Police, Commander of Operation Sting, Mr Shem Evans.”
Joseph gave kudos to the police. “We are grateful to the Commissioner of Police, Mr Dan Daura Mustapha and the Rivers Police Command for wiping away our tears of ten years. We have started calling all our people to come back home.”
Tough time for criminals
Following the successful operation against the Lucifer gang, Operation Sting operatives in a joint operation with the Army, the NSCDC and the Navy had raided known black spots around Ogoni community forcing criminal elements to relocate from the axis.
‘We have raided and cleared the Rundele Community and the East-West routes into Rivers and Delta State,” ASP Shem Evans confirmed. “Also, we are moving to Elele Community to declare war against hoodlums in that axis.”
However, commander of Eagle Crack Operations, Adetiju Benson, said even though Brown was killed, members of his gang regrouped and had attempted to rob three new generation banks. The robbery was aborted resulting in a shootout between the gang and security operatives during which some of the brigands were shot dead. Recovered from them were 186 rounds of ammunition and metallic colour Toyota Corolla.
Commissioner of Police Mustapha stated that Lucifer’s death was symbolic, a strong signal to other kidnappers to relocate from Rivers State.
“Operation Sting, Eagle Crack and the Anti-kidnapping Squad are going after the remaining kidnappers,” he declared, “We need the public to give us useful information about the criminals in the state.”