By Ngozi Uwujare
It was the end of the road recently for some kidnappers who had been terrorising communities in Imo State. They were subdued and apprehended by police operatives in the state.
In a joint operation, men of the Anti-Kidnapping Squad and Quick Intervention Team of the Imo State Police Command stormed the hideout of the gang of kidnappers at Umuomumu Mbieri in Mbaitoli Local Government Area of the state. After a gun duel, the kidnappers were nabbed after sustaining bullet wounds. The police team also rescued one of the gang’s victims, 44-yearold Chima Eze, a lawyer.
Eze was reportedly kidnapped at his residence at MCC Uratta in Owerri North Local Government Area of the state on February 27. His abductors demanded a N50 million ransom.
Anambra State Commissioner of Police, Mr. Nasiru Mohammed said the gang had earlier kidnapped the Auxiliary Bishop of Owerri. Maria Asumpta Cathedral Dioceses in Nigeria, Most Rev. Moses Chikwe and his driver, one Robert Ndubusi around Site and Services, new Owerri on December 27, 2020. The men were held hostage for five days before they were released on January 1.
The same gang also, on February 11, kidnapped one Ujunwa Ntemchukwu of Umudula Oriji who was taken to their hideout where they demanded N5million. The relatives of the victim, it was gathered, quietly paid the kidnappers N1million. She was released on February 12.
The police boss said the gang had been terrorising the state before he ordered the police team led by Oladimeji Odeyewa, a Superintendent of Police, to storm the kidnappers ‘den. Those arrested are Chimebere Samuel Nwagborogwu, 25, Ikechukwu Nwokejiezi, 41 and 31-year-old Ihedum Ulunwa, also known as Iron. The team recovered one cut-to-size double barrel gun, one locally made pistol, seven live cartridges and a long rope use in tying up their victims,” the CP said.
It was gathered that the gang leader, Ihedum Ulunwa confessed to have featured prominently in several kidnappings in the state.
“The same gang also kidnapped four victims between March and April 2020 in Owerri axis and took them to their hideout. They collected millions of naira from the relatives of the victims before they released them,” the police boss said.
Saturday Sun gathered that over 10 kidnapping victims who stormed the Imo State Police Command on March 8, 2021 identified the kidnappers. One of the victims, Chima Eze, identified the four suspects as those that abducted him. He also spoke Saturday Sun: “I hail from Owerri North Local Government Area of Imo State. On February 27, around 6.00pm, I was returning to my house and immediately they opened the gate of my house, the five gunmen started shooting in my compound. They kidnapped me and took me in their vehicle to their hideout. They blindfolded me, tied my two legs. They collected my phone and called my wife and demanded N50 million. They started threatening me that if the money was not completed, they would kill me. They also threatened my wife to send the ransom to them or else they would kill me. The following day, February 28, I started hearing gunshots. I was afraid that I would die, but the operatives came and rescued me. ‘I didn’t pay any kobo to the kidnappers. I don’t know them. I give God the glory for what He has done. When the kidnappers were arrested. I was able to Identify the four gang members who took me away. I commend the efforts of the Commissioner of Police, Mr. Nasiru Mohammed and his men.”
Another victim, Ujunwa Nlemchukwu also narrated: “I was coming from the market and when I wanted to enter the gate of my house on February 11, the gunmen double-crossed me and forced me inside the vehicle. They took me to their camp. They collected my phone and started calling my elder sister and demanded N5 million. They threatened that they would kill me if she didn’t bring the money. My elder sister didn’t inform the police operatives and quietly paid one million naira to them. I was released on February 15.”
One of the suspects, Peter Aluo from Egbema Local Government Area of Imo State.told Saturday Sun that he dropped out of junior secondary school and became a tricycle operator before he joined the kidnappers.
“I participated in the kidnapping of February 27 when we abducted Chima Eze and took him to our hideout. We demanded N50 million ransom, but as we were waiting for the ransom, suddenly we started hearing gun shots. We replied the police operatives by firing shots at them but they overpowered us and rescued the victim.
“I also participated in the kidnapping of Bishop of Owerri, Rev. Moses Chikwe. It was our leader, David, a.k.a Emperor who told us to use a bike to double-cross the bishop. We kidnapped him on December 27, 2020 and started demanding N50 million from his people. Later, we learnt that Anti-Kidnapping Squad had arrested the mother of our gang leader, so we released the bishop after spending five days in our custody. We were expecting ransom from the Catholic Church but we didn’t get it before we released Rev. Moses Chikwe. Immediately we released the Bishop, the Anti-Kidnapping Squad also released our gang leader’s mother,” he said.
Another suspect, Ikechukwu Nwokejiezi, said he was watching over the kidnapped bishop. “I tied his hands and legs and was waiting for the N50 million ransom. When the operatives came, I led them to where they recovered our arms.”
The commissioner said those arrested would soon be charged to court while the police would remain on the trail of the other members of the gang that were still in hiding.