•Build expensive homes, hotels with ill-gotten wealth •Their native doctors, armoury
From EMMANUEL UZOR, Onitsha
In Anambra state, kidnappers could be ranked among the biggest investors and employers of labour through their filthy lucre of abducting fellow human beings and demanding ransom for their release.
Through the illegal business and the huge profit, kidnappers in the state have devised a means of investing the money they get from ransom collected from relatives of their victims, in hotel business and other profitable business ventures.
Checks by Sunday Sun revealed that though the kidnappers are aware that their activities in many states attract capital punishment upon conviction, they are unrelenting due to the quick wealth and consequent affluence.
However, the police, other security agencies as well as the state government are not relenting in their efforts to flush out the criminals.
But as the fight against kidnappers continues, it has become obvious that the hoodlums have turned big time investors in various businesses with the usually heavy gains from their satanic acts.
Recently, some of the suspected kidnappers arrested in various parts of the state by the state Special Anti- Robbery Squad, (SARS) led by Mr. James Nwafor, allegedly made startling confessions about their huge financial muzzles.
It was gathered that during interrogation, some of them and their kingpins told policemen that their illegal business has made them as rich as Alhaji Aliko Dangote, reputed as the country’s richest man.
The suspects said they invested the money they received from ransom wisely in various profitable businesses and made sure they live in affluence and glamour as ‘big boys’.
According to a community leader in Oraifite who pleaded anonymity, “the suspects lived in affluence and glamour and paraded themselves as one of the richest people in the community with the large followers who are mainly youths”.
Sunday Sun further gathered that while some of the kidnappers wasted their money on frivolities and expensive life, some of them including the kingpins built expensive houses and hotels scattered all over the state and its environs.
Though the state governor, Mr. Peter Obi has clamped on some of the arrested kidnappers and demolished their homes built with ransom money, there are indications that many of such investments in cities across the country have not been discovered.
Suspects and their investments
Mr. Olisa Ifedika alias Ofeakwu who hails from Oraifite in Ekwusigo local government area of Anambra state allegedly made a confessional statement as the leader of one of the most dreaded kidnap gangs which led to the arrest of his partners and the discovery of their expensive homes.
He had completed his ultra-modern bungalow and almost completed the second two- storey building that he wanted to use as a hotel located near the main road in his community.
The Commissioner of Police in the state, Mr. Balla Nasarawa said: “A hotel built by Ofeakwu at Ezumeri-Oraifite was nearing completion which has been located. The building was erected with ransom collected from their victims.”
According to the Police boss, the kidnap kingpin made confessional statement that led to the discovery of the house built by another dangerous kidnap kingpin, Okechukwu Amasiatu alias Okey Nnewi.
“One of the confessions was that one Okechukwu Amasiatu alias Okey Nnewi is the second most dangerous kidnapper to Olisa Ifedika. The investigations by the police led to the discovery of his residence located almost opposite Ezinifite Police Division in Nnewi South council area of the state.
“A magnificent bungalow of eight bedrooms built with ransom money collected from victims of kidnap was within a compound that belongs to his father. Okey Nnewi is still at large but efforts have been intensified to arrest him.
“He also gave another stunning revelation that their second armory is located at Uli. The confession led to the recovery of another catchments of arms and ammunition buried inside plastic containers by one Emeka Ezekude”, he said.
He hails from Uli in Ihiala council area of Anambra state and another “dangerous” kidnap suspect detained at the SARS office, Awkuzu in connection with high profile kidnap cases and robberies in various parts of the state.
Mr. Nasarawa told Sunday Sun that, “the said Emeka Ezekude was subsequently arrested and he confessed to the crime. Emeka Ezekude just like Okey Nnewi, also built two magnificent bungalows for himself and his mother. The buildings were built with ransom collected from victims of kidnap.”
He was arrested on September 12, 2012, in connection with the murder of two vigilantes. The Ak47 rifle used to kill the security men was recovered and he allegedly confessed to the crime. The police said that the suspect also confessed that his gang was responsible for most of the robberies and kidnappings at Nkpor, Umuoji, Ojoto, Agulu and its environs.”
The Commissioner said: “The suspect further mentioned one Omeregbema as their gang leader and stated that their victims were kept in a storey building built by their leader who is still at large, at Igbokwu community in Anyamelum council area of the state.
“The leader of this dreaded kidnap/armed robbery gang is reported to be a native doctor, and responsible for making charms and arming the suspects with charms to protect them from police bullets. He built a story building with the ransom collected from victims.”
However, Governor Peter Obi swung into action by demolishing some of the buildings that belong to the kidnap suspects in various communities including Oraifite, Uli, Agukwu Nri and other parts of the state.
Governor Obi said the action was to discourage youths who see the ill-gotten wealth of the kidnappers as proof of success and let them know that the government would not tolerate anyone found guilty of aiding and abetting kidnapping and other violent crimes in the state.
Arrest of robbery suspects
The Anambra state police boss also said the command made impressive success in combating violent crimes in and across the state including armed robbery especially in the commercial cities of Onitsha , Nnewi and Awka.
“On October 1, 2012, at about 8am, on a tip off, SARS operatives arrested one Chidera Obiwuru and Onyebuchi Nnekwu with serious bullet wounds, having robbed one Chibuzor Akunna of his Mitsubishi L300 bus with registration No UMZ 19 XA. Items recovered from them included three locally made pistols with two live cartridges and a Nokia cell phone which was identified by the victim.”
The SARS operatives also raced to a robbery scene at Agbata Nsugbe and arrested one Chukwudi Ani and Chinedu Ajani with serious bullet wounds which they sustained during a gun battle with the police while others escaped with their arms and the loot.
“The suspects robbed one Ngozi (other names withheld) and her family of an undisclosed amount and other valuables. They confessed to the crime while manhunt for the fleeing members of the gang is still in progress”, he said.
Also, a police patrol team from Abagana Division in conjunction with Abba town vigilance group on October 8 arrested one Chinedu Slyvanus, a native of Imo state, resident in Abba and recovered one locally made double barrel pistol with three live cartridges, a Carter motorcycle with registration No Ebonyi, QD 266 AKW and three cell phones.
It was further gathered that the police patrol team attached to 3-3 Division and local vigilance group arrested Okwudili Aniukwu and Ifeanyi Chukwu at Agbata Nsugbe and recovered six and a half bags on Indian hemp, packets of paper wrappers, a lady’s motorcycle, two television sets and two small generating sets suspected to have been stolen.
Mr. Balla Nasarawa said that the Special Anti- Robbery Squad arrested a two suspected robbers while they were chasing a motorcyclist in a bid to snatching his motorcycle. He gave the names of the suspects as Daniel Igene alias Onwa and Simeon Boko, adding that, “they were apprehended with serious bullet injuries and a locally made double barrel gun cut to size with five live cartridges was recovered from them.”
Rescue of kidnap victims
The police in their bid to flush kidnappers out of the state recovered so many arms and ammunitions and arrested several suspects including a native doctor suspected to be making charms for criminals. Also, the police rescued some kidnap victims from their abductors.
“The SARS operatives arrested Uchenna Muodofor of Nnewi and his gang. The suspects were affiliated to the dreaded Olisa Ifedika alias Ofeakwu’s gang. They were responsible for most kidnappings in the state and its environs.
Also, the arrest of Obinna Ofor led to the rescue of one Onyekwelu Jonathan Eledu in a compound owned by one Onyeka at Osumoghu.
Policemen at the Uli police division, acting on a tip off, also rescued one 38-year-old Francis Amechi and Anichebe Sunday, both natives of Awka, who were allegedly kidnapped at Orlu in Imo state.