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Police arrest 13, including soldiers, for armed robbery , hijacking

The Rivers State Police Command has arrested 13 individuals, including four soldiers, for their involvement in armed robbery and the hijacking of food trucks. Among those arrested was a member of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC).

Command spokesperson Grace Iringe-Koko announced this in a statement in Port Harcourt on Monday. The arrests followed an investigation into a suspected burglary at a private warehouse in the Elimgbu community, Ohio/Akpor Local Government Area.

Iringe-Koko revealed that two of the initially arrested operatives had abandoned their duty posts in Delta and Kogi states to engage in criminal activities in Rivers State. Their confessions led to the arrest of other operatives and their civilian collaborators.

The four soldiers and the NSCDC operative confessed to the crime. The statement reads, “Investigations by the Rivers State Police Command, following arrests for attempted burglary, have revealed a wide range of criminal activities.

“On March 4, 2024, at approximately 11 pm, the Rivers State Police Command received a distress call about burglars attempting to vandalize warehouses in Elimgbu owned by Mr. Emmanuel Nwangwu and Mrs. Ndifreke Ekanem.

“The police promptly mobilized to the scene and arrested five suspects who had been severely beaten by a mob.

“The wounded suspects were taken to the police hospital as investigations began. During the investigation, it was discovered that one of the suspects, West Isaac (08NA/61/2653), was a corporal in the Nigerian Army serving in Delta State.

“Another suspect, Jabila Kammangar, also known as ‘Kaka,’ was an officer of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps serving in Kabba, Kogi State.

They confessed to abandoning their posts to engage in criminal activities in Rivers State due to its lucrativeness.

“Corporal West, a 36-year-old father of four from Buguma, Rivers State, joined the Army in 2008 and was assigned to the 3rd Battalion in Warri.

He left his base on a sick pass and failed to return even after it expired, remaining absent for over a month until his arrest.”

The statement further noted that West disclosed to the police that he met Kaka while serving in the Army’s Anti-Bunkering Unit, and together, they engaged in several illegal activities.

“He further revealed that he came to Port Harcourt after receiving a call from Kaka about raiding warehouses, which led to their capture.

“Further investigations revealed that they were part of a larger criminal ring specializing in armed robbery, hijacking, and goods diversion.”

The statement added, “Corporal West disclosed to the police that he and other Army personnel had been key players in the group.

“Besides ransacking warehouses, they had a network of informants who provided information about the schedules of goods-bearing trailers.

“They would then dress in full military gear, lay in wait for the trailers, and accost them with a white Hilux van as they approached.

“They would intimidate the drivers, assault them, and hand their keys to designated drivers, who would then divert the trailers to waiting receivers.

“Based on his confessional statement, the police were able to track down and arrest Lance Corporal Abdul Musa (13NA/70/10545), Lance Corporal Mgbe Jeoffrey (16NA/75/6896), and Corporal Innocent Okwoli (12NA/68/6552), all personnel of the Nigerian Army.

“Additionally, eight civilian collaborators in the syndicate were arrested: Olisa Emeka, George Obilor, Sampson Wilson, Alfred Abeke, Barry John, Auwalu Aliyu, Uchenna Nwali, and Alhaji Sofinu Haruna.

Iringe-Koko said the gang’s key coordinator was Corporal Innocent Okwoli, a native of Otakpo in Benue State and a soldier stationed at Intels in Onne.

“Okwoli stated that he started leading hijacking operations after being introduced to the activity by an individual named Abbas and two unnamed naval officers. Following a successful operation, he formed his team,” she stated.

She continued, “Their numerous crimes include the hijacking of a trailer loaded with fertilizer valued at N25 million, owned by Alhaji Sadiq Adams, on February 17, 2024.

“On March 4, 2024, the group attempted to burgle warehouses owned by Emmanuel Nwagwu and Ndifreke Ekanem.

“In February 2024, a 40-foot container filled with imported clothing from China was hijacked and diverted.

“In February 2024, a trailer carrying POP cement was hijacked and diverted. The police have since recovered the stolen POP cement and are working to retrieve a trailer load of fertilizer from its receiver.”

It was revealed that an additional white Toyota Hilux used in the gang’s operations had been recovered from the NSCDC officer.

“Four of the affected soldiers have been dismissed by the Nigerian Army after being handed over by the police,” she said.

The state Commissioner of Police, Olatunji Disu, expressed profound appreciation for the swift and decisive cooperation of the military authorities.

Disu lauded their prompt actions in addressing the involved officers’ misconduct and subsequent handover to the police for prosecution.

He emphasized that this collaborative effort underscored a strong commitment to upholding justice and maintaining public trust in law enforcement institutions.

The CP praised the police officers involved in the arrest and urged them to remain vigilant.

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