ω How Abia Police netted 30 suspects, 90 guns
By NGOZI UWUJARE
Criminals in Abia State who ignored earlier warning from the police that crime is no longer condoned in the state are either regretting or thinking of relocating after a two-month onslaught by Abia State Police Command culminated in the arrests of 30 suspected armed robbers from whom were recovered 90 firearms. The success was attributed majorly to coordinated raids of criminals’ hideouts at Ogbor Hill, Amaba Line and Opobo-Akirika-Azumini expressway.
The breakthrough was recorded in the wake of ‘total war against criminal elements’ declared by the state Commissioner of Police, Mr. Adeleye Oyebade.
The campaign was built on proactive combination of strategic raids of criminal hideouts and intense stop-and-search patrols.
January of mass arrest
The campaign got underway with the interception of a bus with registration number XY648EKY by a federal highway patrol. The bus conveying passengers and goods to Akwa Ibom State was stopped for a routine search Opobo/Akirika/Azumini expressway when the patrol team discovered 50 live cartridges concealed in a carton of noodles.
Arrest of Promise Ajlero, a robber from Imo, who had successfully pulled off several robberies with his gang, was one of the results of the search patrols. His gang had earlier robbed one Mrs. Ability Sunday of her belongings. Busted by a joint patrol from Police Division Headquarters, Ogbor Hill, Aba, and a Safer Highway team that included vigilante, he led police to his hideout where a revolver pistol, 20 cartridges, AK47 rifles and some belongings of his victims were recovered.
On January 21, 2017, a pair of 19 year olds, Chukwuma and Onyekachi Uwaoma, had their fledgling criminal career cut short when they were exposed by police operatives from Ikwuano Division, who retrieved several locally -made pistols, cartridge s and Dane guns from their den.
Another gang of two from Akwa Ibom, Victor Jonah, 21, of Idung Nneke in Ukarafun and Nsika Johnson,18, of Mbomeberre, Oroh Anan, were arrested at the checkpoint on Awosa Azumin Road, Urwa East, while going on a robbery-and-kidnap operation. Damning items found in their bags included single-barrel locally made pistols, l5 live cartridges and Dane guns.
During the period, wanted criminal, Ikechukwu Chukwuma John, 35, was also nabbed by detectives. His gang was linked to the kidnap of Celestine Ositadinme Nwanko on December 28, 2016, in Uyo. When arrested on January 31, 2017, the victim’s Toyota Highlanders was found in his possession, so also a cache of arms. He will soon be joining some of his gang members who are already facing charges at the court.
The February haul
One of the key feats in February was the arrest of two notorious armed robbers, Sunday Awa and Okorie Ogi, both of Amamba Ugwueke, Bende Local Government area, Abia State. Arrested by operatives of the State Criminal Intelligence Department (SCID), Umuahia, 46 live cartridges and a double-barrel gun were recovered from the duo who confessed to having been on a robbery spree since the past two years.
On February 13, operatives at Central Police Station, Aba, arrested 22-year-old Uchechukwu Ukaegbu. Ukaegbu of No. 17, Ugorji Street, Aba, confessed to being the ring leader of a gang of robbers topping the wanted list of the command since 2016. Deadly weapons recovered from him comprised locally made pistols, 9mm ammunition, 10 locally made single-barrel shotguns, 38 Ak47 rifle ammunitions, and 16 live cartridges.
Oyebade, who gave Saturday Sun a rundown of the operation, confirmed it was not restricted to the inner city, but extended to Umuahia-Aba expressway.
“Through stop-and-search routine, police arrested a seven-member armed gang who robbed passengers on the highway. We recovered some arms from the vehicles they used for their operations,” he said.
No hiding place
During one of the command’s coordinated raids of black spots spearheaded by a team of detectives from Central Police Station and Area Command, Abia, hoodlums fled from an uncompleted building, abandoning a hoard of arms and ammunition that included AK47 rifles, pistols and cartridges.
From all indication, the police command in the state is not thinking of turning off the heat any time soon. “I have instructed my personnel to carry out aggressive mop-up exercise of criminals in the states,” declared CP Oyebade. “This exercise is designed to ensure there is no hiding place for criminals in the state. All the suspects in our net will soon be charged to court.”
He unveiled the motivation behind the operation. “The more we arrest notorious armed robbers and kidnappers in Aba, the more syndicate regroup and continue where their gang leaders stopped. So we decided to crime-map the black spots in Aba.”