Imo State Police Command has arrested 9 suspected criminals terrorising parts of the state.
The arrest came barely two weeks after gunmen attacked and killed four policemen in a restaurant in the Ngor Okpala area of the state.
In a statement made available to newsmen on Sunday, the command’s spokesman, ASP Henry Okoye, said the command also recovered arms and ammunition from the suspects’ hideouts.
Okoye said the arrests followed the state’s Commissioner of Police, Mohammed Barde’s directive to commence a detailed investigation and manhunt to unravel the perpetrators of the Ngor Okpala dastardly act.
“Acting on the CP’s directives, a detachment of the Command’s tactical team on April 24 at about 1730hrs after a diligent gathering of credible intelligence, arrested one Mathew Chuwkuma, 48 years, of Mpam Ahaizu Mbaise Local Government Area of Imo State, in his hideout at Umuahia, Abia.
“He confessed to being the Sector Commander of the proscribed and dreadful IPOB/Eastern Security Network syndicate in Mbaise and assisted the curious operatives in arresting three of his syndicate,” Okoye said.
He listed the names of the suspects as Ojoko Ikechukwu, 53; Chilaka Charles, 44; and Anthony Iwu, 50, who were all arrested in their criminal hideout at Umuokiria, Ahaizu Mbaise Local Government Area of the state, while others escaped.
He said on searching the suspects and their hideout, incriminating items were recovered.
Okoye said one cut-to-size AK 47 rifle, 190 rounds of live 7.62 mm ammunition, two AK 47 magazines, two cut-to-size double barrel guns and one locally fabricated Beretta pistol were recovered from the terrorist hideout.
“In the course of the investigation, the suspects all confessed to being members of the proscribed IPOB/ESN syndicate terrorising the good people of Imo and had a hand in the recent killing of four Police officers and two civilians at Ngor Okpala.
“They volunteered crucial information that assisted the determined operatives on April 27 at about 1240hrs, in raiding their second hideout/shrine in Itu, Ezinitte Mbaise local government area of Imo which led to the arrest of four other notorious IPOB/ESN suspects famous on the command’s wanted list due to their nefarious activities.
“On sighting the operatives, the notorious criminal syndicate engaged them in a fierce gun duel but were overpowered by the super firepower of the combat-ready tactical squad which forced them to disarray and resulted in the arrest of four other suspects,” he stated.
The police spokesman gave the names of the suspects as Ibe Demian, 50; Iwuala Simon, 31; Nwabueze Ahiwe, 47; and the Chief Priest of the Criminal Syndicate, Obali Paul, 70.
He said some other suspects escaped with various degrees of bullet injuries.
“On searching their second hideout which also serves as a shrine where they perform fetish rituals, one AK 47 rifle, three pump action guns, two single barrel locally made guns, one locally made pistol and one cut-to-size gun were recovered.
“Also recovered were 50 rounds of 7.66mm live ammunition, 38 rounds of live cartridges, two AK 47 magazines, two locally made explosive devices, one iPhone, one H-mobile, walkie-talkie, three cow horns painted with Biafran Insignia, two Biafran Jewish caps and a Jewish flag.”
He added that a large quantity of weeds suspected to be cannabis sativa and other fetish objects were equally recovered.
“Frantic investigating efforts are on top gear to arrest other syndicate members at large and make them face the full wrath of the law.
“The commissioner of police while commending the operatives for a job well done, stressed the fact that policing is a collective responsibility,” he emphasised.
He appealed to Imo people to join hands with the Police and other sister security agencies in the crusade against terrorism and to report any suspicious activity or persons seen with or treating gunshot injury to the nearest Police station.
Okoye further released the command’s phone lines: 08034773700 and 08098880197, for any emergency.