Suspected kidnappers currently in police net in Rivers State have recalled their daredevilry in the crime world across several locations of the state, collecting ransoms in millions of naira.
The suspects included Isaac Aforji aka Angel Boy, Philemon Barifa, Emmanuel Okechukwu alias Ezeruwa, Emeka Chukwuma, Prince Zopkara, Onyemechi Francis, a driver; Lucky Teeage, a priest; Pius Kpala, Barriston Gbara, and a youth leader, Lemon Kenneth.
They were all arrested recently by members of the Inspector-General of Police Intelligence Response Team for kidnapping and killing a Divisional Crime Officer of the Afam Police Station in Rivers State, SP Moses Egbede.
Egbede, it was gathered, was on the morning of 21 July, 2020, driving to the office in his Lexus 300 Sport Utility Vehicle when five armed men ambushed him along Obiama Pipeline Road and took him to their camp in Agbeta in the Eleme Local Government Area of the state.
They consequently contacted his wife, Grace, two days later, demanding N50m ransom which they later reduced to N1m, which they got on 31 July, when his son, Emmanuel, took the money to them on Ogale Pipeline Road.
But, contrary to their promise to release Egbede, they killed the officer two days after and dumped his corpse in a well as directed by one Aforji, who said he (Egbede) once detained his wife.
34-year-old Aforji, in an interactikn with journalists, spoke in his criminal engagements, including illegal oil bunkering and series of kidnappings.
His words: “I am married with three children. I am from Eleme, Rivers State and attended only primary school. I learned welding for two years and later opened a welding workshop. There was a crisis in my community and my equipment was stolen. I then started to ride motorbikes.
“I got married and ventured into oil bunkering business. I had a fire accident and sustained burns. I spent all the money I had for my treatment. I was broke and met a youth leader known as Tombare. I told him about my issue and he got me involved in kidnapping.
“In the first kidnapping, we collected N200,000 ransom. The second operation was a woman and her child. We were paid N300,000 as ransom and I got N30,000. We also kidnapped one Okechukwu and collected N1m ransom before we released him. I got N100,000 as my share.
“In May 2020, we kidnapped a man known as Lotto man and took him to our camp. I don’t know the amount collected as ransom but I was given N80,000,” he said.
Aforji equally explained during the operation, someone identified him and reported him to the police who were later led by the late DCO to his house and, not finding him, arrested his wife.
He added: “When I didn’t show up, she was later released. I was told that the DCO Afam Police Station and one Inspector Christ were part of the police team.
“Then we kidnapped the policeman (Egbede). His cousin, one Friday, brought the job. He spent some days with us and N1m ransom was paid. I then insisted that he must be killed because he embarrassed me before my wife.
“Teddy (a gang member at large) shot him dead and his body was dumped inside a well. Teddy took away his Lexus vehicle,” said Aforji.
One of the gang, Barifa, 23, explained he was initially a farmer before he ventured into kidnapping in 2016 after his crops were destroyed by one Alhaji Abdullahi.
He said they consequently kidnapped Abdullahi and collected N3m ransom out of which he was given N380,000, saying they subsequently killed and buried the man.
He spoke: “We were seven that kidnapped him. We all contributed N180,000 and gave it to our chief priest (Teeage)."
The father of one explained he relocated from Eleme upon the murder of Abdullahi in 2017 and returned last year to form a new gang together with Aforji and four other friends.
He further confirmed his participation in the policeman’s kidnap and killing, noting the gang operated with four locally-made guns.
Said he: “I got N200,000 as my share of the N1m ransom. Then, we kidnapped a man in a Toyota Highlander and blinded one of his eyes. The man managed to escape from our camp when we took his car to Port Harcourt for sale. I was arrested two days after that operation.”
Disclosing he participated in kidnaps by getting food for those abducted, Okechukwu, 34, he disclosed that he got N15,000 from the ransom paid for the policeman.
Chukwuma, 22, noted: “I am from Abia State but reside in Obigbo. I was part of the group that monitored the policeman in the camp after and was given N30,000 as my share.”
Zopkara, who participated by renting out an AK-47 rifle to the gang, explained he got a share of between N80,000 and N100,000 after each operation.
Teeage admitted to participating in the kidnapping of Abdullahi, saying he did not know about his murder. Besides, 28-year-old Gbara, a hunter, confessed to selling bullets to the gang for N4,000.
Kenneth, in respect of Abdullahi's abduction, claimed “I was given the N3m ransom by the family and every member got N380,000.”