Seven members of a notorious armed robbery gang, which includes a 25-year-old woman, that specialized in breaking into people’s homes at night, have been rounded up by operatives of the DCP Abba Kyari Led Inspector General of Police Special Intelligence Response Team, IRT, in Port-Harcourt.
The suspects who were identified as Precious Okoye, alias Angel, Junior Nmeni, Oliver Nwokocha, Emeka Iwuayanwu, Victor Nwabusis, Sunny Nweke and Ezekiel Ishaya, were arrested after they killed a professional golfer, Usman Zabadi, in his house on Poultry Road, Rukpokwu, Port Harcourt and made away with his television sets, two mobile phones and an ATM card.
Police sources disclosed that the robbers confessed that the golfer was killed after he poured a pot of soup on one of the robbers armed with an automatic pump action gun who then shot him in the face.
A source explained further that the gang went on to rob several other homes around Iguruta, Upper-Deck and Igurutaly areas of Port-Harcourt, where they dispossessed their victims of cash and other valuables including mobile phones, cars, motorcycles and jewelries.
The gang was also said to have kidnapped and raped a 13-year-old girl, during one of their operations and a ransom of N200,000 was said to have been paid before she was released.
According to Vanguard, the gang ran into trouble when the victims made complaints to the Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, who directed the IRT, headed by Deputy Commissioner of Police, Abba Kyari to track down the suspects.
A crack team of operatives led by a Superintendent Police, Martins, was reportedly deployed to Rivers State who trailed the suspects through the ATM card of late Zabadi’s wife which the suspects used in withdrawing money from her account after her husband was killed.
It was gathered that images generated from the ATM transactions, were distributed among police informants around Iguruta area of Port-Harcourt and the gang member, Oliver, who murdered the golfer was identified and arrested.
He was said to have confessed to the crime during interrogations and provided information that aided the IRT operatives in apprehending six other members of the gang including the 25-year-old woman.
When Vanguard interviewed the 22-year-old Oliver Nwokocha, who is a native of Echiche Local Government of Rivers State, he said he had no intention of killing Zabadi, stating that he shot him in error not knowing that Zabadi died at the spot.
In his confession, Oliver Nwokocha said, “I went into crime in January this year after my uncle was killed by some people in my community who wanted to take over our land. When my uncle’s death degenerated into a fight in the community, I went to my friend, Junior who has an automatic pump action gun which I borrowed and used in the fight.
“When the issue was resolved, Emeka, who was also my friend called me and said Junior wanted us to go for robbery. I took the guns and we met at Iguruta and joined by two others, Ifeanyi and Victor who took us to a house in Rukpokwu. But while we were breaking into the house, the occupants started shouting Jesus, Jesus.
“We therefore went to another house which Ifeanyi broke into and when we entered, the man in that house quickly ran into the kitchen and I followed him. Then he hit me with a gas cylinder and poured a pot of hot soup on me which got me angry and I shot him. I didn’t know that the man died at that spot. It was when I was arrested that the police told me that the man was dead.
“After that operation I collected one phone and sold it to someone. Emeka took one of the television sets to his place. I had no intention of killing that man”, he lamented.
On his part, Junior Nmeni, who is the owner of one of the guns used by the gang said he was lured into armed robbery because he lost his job and he was looking for money to take care for his pregnant wife.
The 28-years-old man who is a native of Umuechem Community in Etchie Local Government Area of Rivers State said; “I was formerly a cleaner at the Port Harcourt International Airport where I earned N18,000, but I joined the gang seven months ago because I was sacked and things became very tough for me and my wife. I had a gun which belonged to my late elder brother which Oliver and I used to rob a couple at Iguruta after which I kidnapped and raped the woman’s sister. I kept her in my house for two days before Emeka and I started demanding ransom.
“The woman paid us N200,000 and I got N23,000 as my share since six of us were invloved. The next operation I went for was at Hotel where we got N21,000 and three phones. My last operation was at the home of one Mr Ogundun but on the day we went to the house we didn’t succeed because the man had a gun and he shot at Oliver but we took the man’s motorcycle away. I haven’t made much money from the business before I was arrested. I was hoping to raise enough money from the business which I intended to use for my pregnant wife’s delivery”.
While narrating how he went into crime Emeka Iwuayawu, a 24- year-old native of Ugulabo Local Government Area of Imo state, said; “I am a primary school dropout, my late father who was a native doctor drove me out of the house when my mother left him. I then went to Port-Harcourt to look for job but when I couldn’t find any job, I started selling Indian Hemp at Unmuji Farm Road.
“My father later took ill and died leaving me with the burden of burying him and my grandmother. I had no money to take my father’s corpse to the mortuary and I discovered that he had sold all our landed property before he died. While I was on this, I had a fight with a man at Saint Anthony Church in Upper-Deck Area of Port-Harcourt, I was arrested and taken to prison where I spent six months. When I came out of prison, I joined a friend, Ifeanyi, who I met in prison and we started snatching people’s bags. I made some money from those operations which I used to bury my grandmother. I then joined Ifeanyi to carry out more robberies hoping to raise more money which I would use in burying my father.
“Ifeanyi took me and two others to a house in Allo at night and when we entered the house, we heard a woman praying and shouting Jesus, we left that house and we broke into another man’s house where we fired a shot and collected the TV sets and phones. I was given one of the TV sets which I gave to Precious who sold Indian hemp at Rossons area of Port-Harcourt. She told me she has three children and that her husband had abandoned her without any money. She also followed us to two other robbery operations where we gave her all the money we made and the items we looted”.
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