Four soldiers, nine others arrested for armed robbery in Rivers

 

The Rivers State Police Command said its men have arrested 13 persons, including four soldiers for alleged armed robbery, hijacking of food trucks and diverting them to other locations.

The police said among those also arrested in the criminal act was a member of the syndicate and operative of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps

The spokesperson for the command, Grace Iringe-Koko, disclosed this in a statement in Port Harcourt on Monday.

Iringe-Koko said the feat followed a thorough investigation after the policemen made an initial arrest for suspected burglary in a private warehouse in Elimgbu community in Ohio/Akpor Local Government Area of the state.

She said two of the first set of operatives arrested abandoned their duty post in Delta and Kogi states respectively to engage in criminal activities in Rives State, saying their confession led to the clampdown of other operatives and their civilian collaborators.

The state police image maker further disclosed that the four soldiers and the NSCDC operatives 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 who were attempting to vandalise warehouses in Elimgbu owned by Mr Emmanuel Nwangwu and Mrs Ndifreke Ekanem.

“The police promptly mobilised 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 specialising 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.

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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.

Continuing, she said, “Their numerous crimes include: “The hijacking of a trailer loaded with fertiliser valued at N25m, owned by Alhaji Sadiq Adams, occurred 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 fertiliser 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.

According to the statement, the state Commissioner of Police, Olatunji Disu, expressed his 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 emphasised 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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