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Operatives of Anambra State Police Command have confirmed the arrest of six suspected members of a notorious criminal gang terrorising the Eziowelle community and its environs for a long time.
A spokesperson for the Command, Tochukwu Ikenga, while confirming the arrest, said several weapons were recovered from the gang, including three English pump-action rifles and other dangerous weapons they used for their operations.
The Eastern Updates reports that the gang was alleged to be using an illegal vigilante group to kidnap, rob, intimidate, and harass people in the community.
They have also been accused of breaking into the homes of prominent individuals in the community, stealing their properties, sexually assaulting female members of their families, and kidnapping others, who are later forced to pay huge sums of money as ransom.
A police source said a prominent man in the area, who claims to be a pastor, was also controlling his own gang that has been indulging in criminal acts in Eziowelle for a long time with the support of some leaders of the community. These leaders claimed to have contacts with security agencies in both Anambra State and Abuja that would protect them.
According to the source, ‘the gang has made the town unsafe that many indigenes, both in Nigeria and abroad had to flee their homes for fear of being kidnapped and forced to pay ransom under the guise of being a vigilante group. Some victims have not only been abducted at midnight, but taken to offices of some security agencies where they were tortured, harassed, and intimidated into parting with huge sums of money to buy their freedom.’
Confirming the development, the police spokesperson, said the suspects were apprehended following reports about their criminal activities in the area, which the state‘s Commissioner of Police, Echeng Echeng, received.
He said: ‘The operatives raided Eziowellle community and we have six suspects in custody. The operatives recovered three pump action guns, one Beretta pistol, ammunition, and other incriminating items.
‘Upon receiving the report of their criminal activities, Commissioner Echeng Echeng swiftly directed the Commander of the Anti-Cult Unit in the state, Chief Superintendent of Police (CSP), Uche Noah, to round up all the criminals involved in the nefarious acts. CSP Uche and his team stormed the town in an operation described as ‘unprecedented in execution’ and rounded up the suspects, despite their stiff resistance and hot exchange of firepower that lasted for hours.
‘The police team succeeded in routing them and arrested six of their kingpins while others escaped with serious bullet wounds. Police operations would continue until they are completely flushed out, and their financiers rounded up to make Eziowelle a peaceful town.
‘CP Echeng gave stern directives to the police team to arrest all those involved in turning Eziowelle into a hot zone, no matter how highly or lowly placed, and charge them to court without delay. Decoy teams have penetrated the town and its environs, and more arrests will soon be carried out.’
There are so many other operations going on in the state. We urge Anambrains to sustain the tempo by giving us relevant information.