By Emma Nnadozie, Crime Editor & Simon Ebegbulem
The four Edo State Government officials and seven others arrested by the Police have been flown to Force Headquarters, Abuja, for further interrogation.
This came as it was learned that suspected cultists and other criminals have reportedly taken flight from the state to evade arrest and prosecution. Meanwhile, a notorious leader of one of the cult groups (name withheld) in Edo State, has, in the wake of the clampdown on cultists in the state, fled to London where his family resides.
However, the Edo State Government, yesterday, expressed its readiness to ensure that any of its officials involved in cultism was prosecuted according to the law.
Police sources said that the collaborative effort between the IG’s special team and Edo State Police Command, has paid off, as almost all the known and suspected cultists in the state who have held sway by killing and harassing innocent people, have suddenly disappeared to unknown locations.
One of the fleeing gang leaders who was described as ‘very brutal,’ was alleged to have received N10 million from one of the political parties during elections but failed to share it equitably. This, according to reports, angered members of his gang as they resorted to attacks, which led to the death of no fewer than 10 persons within one month, prompting the IG’s intervention.
Vanguard gathered that police authorities will soon declare about 10 suspected leaders of cult groups in the state who fled to unknown destinations, wanted, with huge ransoms placed on their heads. Sources said, despite the flight by the gang leaders, Police succeeded in arresting about 60 of their foot soldiers who are said to be in custody at the command headquarters in Benin City. Efforts made to reach the leader of the special operation from Abuja, Mr Chris Ezike, failed as his telephone lines were switched off.
Meanwhile, Edo State Government, yesterday, expressed its readiness to ensure that any of its officials involved in cultism was prosecuted according to the law. Expressing shock at the arrest of some of its officials by the crack team of detectives deployed to the state by the IG, over alleged involvement in cultism, the state government expressed its readiness to co-oporate with the police in its investigation.
Over 15 persons including two mothers were shot dead in the last one month in Benin City, following cult wars between the Eiye, Manfiat and the Black Axe confraternities. The IG, who is an indigene of the state, Vanguard learned, was furious over the situation and vowed to track down the perpetrators.
No fewer than 1,000 crack detectives arrived Benin City, Wednesday, and are currently working to mop up the dreaded cultists who have terrorised the people of the state in the past one month.
A statement by the Edo State Commissioner for Information and Orientation, Mr Louis Odion, said: “The reports came as a big shock to us. While it is inappropriate to jump to conclusion until police investigations are concluded, let me put on record that cultism in whatever form negates the values Governor Adams Oshiomhole holds dear. This is easily verifiable from his zero tolerance for thuggery or any form of political violence over the years.”