By Anayo Okoli, UMUAHIA
For Udechukwu Peter, the leader of a gang of dangerous kidnappers and armed robbers that had terrorized and held the people of Abia state, particularly people from Abia North zone comprising Arochukwu Local Government Area, captive, it is now a day of reckoning. His gang had unleashed terror and fear on the people in the area for years. They terrorized, maimed and wasted innocent lives.
They were foolishly bold in their criminal act that they also robbed churches and kidnapped God’s anointed. Perhaps, that was a pointer that time was up for the gang. It is said that those the Gods want to kill, they first make mad. So it was for this heartless gang led by Mbaise, Imo state- born Udechukwu Peter.
The gang, according to security sources, was indeed dangerous. While these five hoodlums have been arrested, three members of the gang were still on the run but security sources hinted that those on the run would soon be apprehended as security operatives were closing in on them.
However, their cup was filled on April, 13 2011, when the gang abducted a Catholic Reverend Sister, Chikaodi Elendu in Ozuabam, Arochukwuu Local Government Area of the state. The Reverend Sister was abducted alongside one Miss Ogochukwu Osueke, an SSS 3 student of Kolping Academy, Ozuabam.
Having taken their victims hostage, the gang established contact with the Catholic Church in the state and made a ransom demand of N3 million.
But operatives of the State Security Service, Abia state Command waded in and got involved in the effort to release the victims. Due to the pressure mounted on them during the negotiation, the hoodlums brought down their ransom demand to N150million, which was paid and the Reverend Sister and the student were released.
SSS operatives trailed and arrested five members of the gang, including their leader, Udechukwu, while three other members were still being trailed. However, Udochukwu, who said he was a painter claimed the gang was made up of nine persons.
Sources from operatives who have been pursuing these hoodlums, said the gang had very dangerous network which made it difficult to apprehend them since they have been terrorizing the Abia North zone. However, security operatives were able to demystify the myth of that network and smashed the dreaded gang. They were arrested in different locations.
The Director of the SSS in the State, Mr. Mathew Obodoechi, a lawyer, briefed journalists on their arrest and also paraded the gang arrested members.
Those paraded were Udochukwu Peter, said to be the leader of the criminal gang, Peter Kalu, Kelechi Dike, Ugochukwuw George Nwankpa and Chisokwu Azubuike. The SSS boss said they would be arraigned in Court.
Narrating the circumstances that led to their arrest, Obodoechi disclosed that the 8-man gang of criminals met their waterloo at different locations while three members of the gang were still at large, though he assured that his men were closing in on them.
According to him, the gang members who had voluntarily confessed their involvement in the kidnaping of the Reverend Sister, also confessed their involvement in other kidnaping and armed robbery cases in that area, including the abduction of one Dr. Mmeregini of Mmeregini Hospital in Ohafia, as well as the robbery attack at the Catholic Church, Ozuabam.