BY VINCENT UJUMADU, Awka
THREE houses belonging to dreaded kidnappers in Anambra State, including a N17 million bungalow, were yesterday demolished at Aguleri in Anambra East local government area under the supervision of the joint task force set up by Governor Willie Obiano to fight crime in the state.
The state commissioner of police, Mr. Usman Gwary led the commanders of the army and the navy during the operation that lasted several hours. Gwary said they decided to demolish the houses as directed by Governor Willie Obiano, who has shown zero tolerance to crime.
Three leaders of the kidnap gang contributed money to build the houses to serve as a depot for their victims.
A leader of the gang, Mr. Ogochukwu Ngwueche (aka Nwa Jesus) from Oghe in Enugu State, who has been providing security operatives with information on kidnapping activities in Anambra State since his arrest, told reporters at Aguleri that himself, Onyeka and Chigozie, (aka 30) from Ogidi in Anambra State decided to build the six- bedroom N17 million house with proceeds from various kidnappings to serve as depot for their human cargo (victims) when former Governor Peter Obi decided to be demolishing houses of kidnappers in the state.
The house, he said, was built by a contractor and member of the gang whose name he gave as Winer and who is still at large.
“We decided that it was a big risk to build houses in our compounds and that was why we bought land and built the houses sorely for keeping our victims,” he said.
He said that among high profile victims that were kept in the N17 million house at various times while negotiation for their release lasted included a foreigner whose company paid N165 million, a sister to the managing director of Orange Drugs whose family paid N50 million, a younger brother of Chief G.U.O. Okeke, chairman of GUO Group whose family paid N35 million and another top businessman whose family paid N45 million.
Ngwueche, who had in the past, travelled to Malaysia and served a one –year jail term at Awka Prison in 2011 said further that he went into full time kidnapping because of the easy money in the business.
According to him, he was earlier an armed robbery before discovering that it paid better to kidnap and demand for ransom.
There is also a shrine in the compound which, he said, sacrifices of goats and even human beings were made to ensure their safety during operations.
One unique feature of all the buildings demolished yesterday was that they were all located in remote area of the town.
Also yesterday, the police paraded 17 suspects and various types of ammunition they use in tormenting people.
Police public relations officer of the Anambra State police command, Mr. Emeka Chukwuemeka said during the parade that two of the suspects specialized in sending false alert to people that money had been paid into their accounts, while two others recently kidnapped a woman at Nnobi in Idemili South local government area of the state.
Two others, he said, belong to the gang that usually blocks the Enugu Agidi road along the Enugu –Onitsha expressway to rob people on the highway, while the rest had participated in various kidnap and armed robbery operations.
Chukwuemeka said: “The synergy between the Anambra State government and security operatives has really started yielding fruits and the joint task force will not relent until this state is rid of criminals.