BY EMMA NNADOZIE, CRIME EDITOR
ASABA—The Police at Zone 5 Area Command, Benin City, yesterday, arrested a notorious land speculator alleged to be terrorizing genuine land owners in Delta State and its environs, identified as Maxwell Okonkwo Ezechie.
Also arrested with the suspect said to be a dismissed police corporal, is the son of a serving police officer simply called Augustine Igbinoba who was described as the suspect’s chief executioner and two others. Police sources said the main suspect, Ezechie, was arrested after the Inspector- General of Police, Mohammed Abubakar, directed that he should be fished out following report of his terrorist activities in the area.
Vanguard gathered that, in addition, the management of a popular Lagos-based newspaper had petitioned the Police boss in Abuja alleging that Ezechie and his thugs invaded their building site at Akwukwu-Igbo, Okpanam, Delta State, and unleashed mayhem on their workers.
In the petition titled “Attempted murder, kidnap, terrorism, harassment, intimidation and threat to life” against the suspect, the management of the media outfit alleged that Ezechie led thugs, armed with dangerous weapons including guns, cutlasses and broken bottles and invaded the parcel of land allocated to it by Delta State government last month.
According to the petition, the suspect held all the workers on the site, including armed policemen, hostage after which they disarmed the policemen and subjected the workers, including a 70-year- old site engineer to torture and beating.
A top management staff of the media outfit who was on the site when they struck was reportedly manhandled while they attempted to force him into the booth of their car. Police sources said after dealing with the people on the site, the suspect used his cell phone to invite another gang of thugs who were armed and dressed in both police and army uniforms. It was learnt that the thugs left the scene after the police from Delta State Command sent a re-enforcement.
Following this development and the directive from the Police boss in Abuja, the Assistant Inspector-General of Police in charge of Zone 5, Hashimu Argungu and his two Deputy Commissioners of Police, swiftly swang into action and detailed a strong team from anti-kidnapping unit to raid the suspect’s home. Police sources said when the suspect got wind of the presence of the policemen from Benin, he disappeared. The team, however, succeeded in arresting one of his thugs described as the “chief executioner’’ and said to be the son of a serving police officer in the state. Sources said when the detectives from Benin led by DSP Eboh succeeded in entering the suspect’s compound at Akwukwu-Igbo, they were shocked to see impenetrable walls with multiple entrance gates, suspected to be the protective armour of the suspect and his dangerous gang.
It was gathered that the AIG had since directed that thorough investigation be carried out on activities of the arrested suspects with a view to ascertaining whether they are involved in other crimes in the area based on the type of protective walls and multiple gates used in his vast compound.
Meanwhile, police sources said the suspects have made useful statement to the police and may likely be flown to Abuja, after the completion of the investigation.