Three years after the abduction of Andy Ehanire, the Managing Director of Ogba Zoo that resulted in the cold-blooded killing of a sergeant and two inspectors, the Anti-Kidnapping Squad of the Edo State Police Command finally brought closure to the case with the recent arrest of the prime suspect allegedly responsible for the 2017 crime. The suspect, Lucky Asaba, 40, declared wanted by the Edo State Police Command since 2017, was arrested on February 11, 2020, in Sapele, Delta State.
The brigand, allegedly responsible for the kidnap of at least 15 victims in the intervening years, had had a field day with his gang raking in millions of naira in ransom while holding victims hostage in Ogbolo creeks in Warri North Local Government Area of Delta State.
Back in 2017, Asaba, an ex-convict, with five members of his gang, had on September 24, abducted 60-year-old Andy Ehanire, younger brother of the current Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, and subsequently held him captive for three weeks before releasing him after the family’s payment of a N64 million ransom. In the same month, the gang had also kidnapped the duo of David George and Henry Ewahurib in September 2017 and successfully collected millions of naira ransom.
Since then, the Edo State Police Command had been on the gang’s trail scoring cumulative success here and there, starting with the October 24, 2017, arrest of seven of its members during a foiled kidnapping in Benin City. The suspects, promptly charged to court, were remanded in Oko Prison and Benin Prison. Another set of members of the gang, arrested in 2019 during another foiled operation, have been cooling their heels inside Warri Prison.
Eventually, on February 11, 2020, the police finally got lucky against Lucky Asaba as they brought his reign to an end with his arrest. Two AK-47 rifles and a smoke gun carted away from the three policemen killed during the Ogba Zoo abduction were recovered from him.
Confession of a career kidnapper
Asaba, a native of Ovia North LGA of Edo State, in an interview with Saturday Sun, declared himself a husband of two wives and father of eight children.
“I am a militant and kidnapper. I stayed in the creek, in Gbogbolo camp. I have spent three years in the creeks and I have been involved in different kidnapping, both on land and on the sea,” he confirmed.
Speaking of the infamous 2017 kidnap and killing in Ogba Zoo, Asaba affirmed that his gang collected N64 million ransom for the snatch.
“The money was paid on the sea. They came with their boat and dropped it on water. The victim spent three weeks in our creek before he was released,” he added.
He also confessed to being a jailbird. “I have gone to prison twice; the first time was when I was arrested by the Delta State Police Command and sentenced in 2009 and released in 2011. We had killed some oil workers on the sea and kidnapped a few of them for ransom.”
Continuing, he disclosed further some of his past atrocities. “In 2018, a group of soldiers came to attack us at Gbogbolo Creek in Warri North but we killed some of them and took their arms and ammunition, though we have our own sophisticated weapons for operations.”
He avowed that most of the top militants in the creeks engage in kidnapping as a means of livelihood.
“We were up to 100 militants who engage in kidnapping in the creeks,” he affirmed. “I have kidnapped over 15 victims, both Nigerians and foreigners and have collected ransom both in naira and dollars before victims were released after spending three or four weeks in our camp.”
He, however, claimed the millions of naira ransoms went to their leaders in the creek. “I didn’t benefit from it. All the ransom goes to our boss,” said a remorseful Asaba who pledged his willingness to work with security operatives to fish out the other criminals.
“I don’t want to go back to the prison for the third time,” he pleaded.
In the meantime, the Edo State Police Command also recorded success in its fight against crime with the arrest of 40-year-old Ishola Clement who for several months had been impersonating the Edo State Commissioner of Police, Mr Lawan Jimeta and had used the ploy to dupe several unwary people in the state, including former governor Adams Oshiomhole.
The suspect was arrested on February 23, 2020, in Benin City.
Though an indigene of Irele Local Government Area of Ondo State, Clement was brought up in Benin City where he attended Olua Primary School and Baptist High School before he proceeded to Delta State University where he graduated from in 2003 after studying Computer /Accountancy.
During his confession, he claimed he was a former Senior Assistant to former Governor of Edo State, Adams Oshiomhole.
He told Saturday Sun: “I spent six years with former Governor Oshiomhole.”
Of his earlier arrest by SARS operatives on December 12, 2019, at the airport in Benin City, he claimed he was framed. “It was the chief security officer of Governor Godwin Obaseki who invited me and handed me over to SARS operatives but it was later discovered that I was not involved (in the fight by political thugs) and I was released.”
On his alleged fraudulent action, he explained: “I wanted to inform the former governor about what happened but he wasn’t picking my calls any longer. So in February (2020), posing as the Commissioner of Police, I used my phone number to call and he (Oshiomhole) picked my phone call and I told him that I had sent one Ishola Clement to him. Immediately, he (Oshiomhole) called to invite me to Abuja.”
During his trip to Abuja on February 6, 2020, Clement claimed he was able to convince the former APC chairman to render financial support to him. “He promised to send money to me and I sent my friend’s account number to him because mine had been dormant,” Clement said.
He alleged that Oshiomhole sent N2.5 million to him.
“I went and withdraw the money. His PA also sent N10million to my friend’s account, but before we could get to the bank, the account was blocked. I called the PA and he told me, it was a wrong transfer and that the money didn’t belong to me,” Clement narrated.
After the Oshiomhole experiment, Clement went on a spree impersonating the Commissioner of Police, and successfully duped some unwary persons in Benin City.
“I don’t use the Commissioner of Police’s phone number. I only mimicked his voice to defraud some people in Benin City,” he admitted.
Ironically, he had never met Mr Jimeta, the Commissioner of Police, until his arrest. “I only saw him on television and in the newspapers,” he stated.
When contacted, Edo State Commissioner of Police Lawan Jimeta told Saturday Sun: “The case was almost unbelievable when I heard complaints from four victims that someone impersonating me had duped them. I have never come across the suspect. He had never come to my office, he didn’t have my phone numbers, and he didn’t use my phone number either to make any call. Rather, he posed as me, imitated my voice to give orders to the victims who all complied.”
Jimeta advised the public to be wary of impersonators. “People should always confirm any transaction they are doing with anybody to save them from fraudsters,” he said.
The suspect, according to him, will soon be arraigned in court.