By Anayo Okoli
UMUAHIA—THE Joint Military Task Force operating in Abia State, yesterday, killed the notorious kidnap kingpin, Mr. Obioma Nwankwo, popularly known as Osisikankwu, who was declared wanted by the police for alleged kidnapping.
Army spokesman, Lt. Col. Sagir Musa, who confirmed the killing, said the notorious criminal was killed at Ugwuati Evil Forest during a gun battle between the task force and the gang led by Osisikankwu.
Though information about the killing was sketchy at press time, Vanguard learnt that the soldiers displayed the body of the notorious kidnapper in an open van round Aba to the jubilation of Aba residents.
Osisikankwu was believed to be leader of all kidnap gangs in Abia. The kidnap gangs had divided the state into various zones with each gang rulin a zone.
He went into hiding when the task force got to Abia in September. On arrival, the task force mounted a manhunt for the late kidnapper.
He had gone into hiding since the task force arrived in September to commence its operation. Since then the task force had expanded its search for the notorious kidnap kingpin and vowed to track him down.
Triumph of light over darkness
In a swift reaction, Abia State government through Governor Theodore Orji’s adviser on electronic media, Ugochukwu Emezue, described the killing as “triumph of light over darkness” and commended the task force for its dogged fight against criminals in Abia. The leadership the task force said it would issue a statement later on the matter.
Vanguard recalls that in an exclusive interview the late kidnap kingpin granted the paper last month,Osisikankwu gave reasons why he took up arms against his own people and the government.
Explaining why he decided to form a gang that terrorised the people, Osisikankwu. said: “We became militants because of the failure of government to live up to its responsibilities towards us. Many of us are graduates. Some are university drop-outs, who could not continue for want of fund or sponsors. There are secondary school leavers without a future in school or jobs.
Many are skilled workers from all walks of life, who are partially on the job or were forced out by lack of fund to buy tools and start their business.
“Others are apprentices and persons wrongfully and unlawfully put out of job without means to litigate on the injustices meted against them, and a lot more who suffered sub-human treatment, degradation, torture, victimization and unjust imprisonment in the hands of Abia State Government, and its agencies from the traditional village setting up to Government House, Umuahia.
“There are some of us who chose militancy because of the rape of their wives and sisters, ritual killing of innocent persons in the guise of security by mainly the Bakassi Boys, used by the state administration as a security outfit. I must also talk about the corrupt segment of the Nigeria Police unleashed on Abia people.
They extort money at check points, police stations and even in people’s homes, thus impoverishing the citizens.”
Soldiers are jokers
When asked how many of his men had been arrested, he said: “The soldiers are jokers. The killing, arrest, detention and trial of innocent citizens, who were branded kidnappers, have not and would not help matters.
Of over 3,000 men in my camp, who were ready to surrender their arms before the military arrived, none has been identified or touched by any soldier or police man.
The figure of arrests announced by the security agencies is a figment of their imagination and a cheap propaganda to score cheap political marks. The military presence has not solved the inherent issues that ignited the problem.”
On how he escaped arrest he said: “It is very simple. We know them but they do not know us. Recently, a photograph of my father was published as my own. I had a good laugh. We pass through their supposed check points daily.
They ask us to place our hands on our head as we pass through their check points. We even passed through their barricades as we came to see you here today. The soldiers just don’t know who they are looking for and that makes their task crazy.
“Dialogue is the thing and not brute force. There has to be serious arrangements to change the ugly face of Ngwaland. My promise is that this struggle and war of good over evil will continue in many ways until the day our problems are addressed by government.”