By Emma Nnadozie, Crime Editor
Barely 24 hours after the Inspector-General of Police, Mr Solomon Arase, dispatched a special squad to Edo State to tackle the spate of cultism, kidnapping, robbery and other related crimes, the team has arrested 11 suspected leaders of cult groups in the state, among them, four state government functionaries.
Police sources said the team, led by the Deputy Commissioner of Police in-charge of Federal Special Anti-robbery Squad, FEDSARS, Chris Ezike, stormed the hideout of the cultists few hours after arriving Benin City and successfully arrested leaders of cult confraternities for alleged complicity and murder of 10 Nigerians in the last one month in Edo State.
The cult leaders were arrested on suspicion of conspiratorial involvement in alleged murder of one Ojo Ayeadu, 55, at old Benin-Auchi Road and nine other persons at different locations in Benin City and its environs.
Reacting to the development, an Edo State Government official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said: “Those arrested, from what we gathered, are junior workers of the War Against Indiscipline. The state governor does not condone cultism, which explains why when one of his bodyguards was accused of being involved in cultism, he ordered his arrest, which was done immediately.”
Confirming the arrests, Force Public Relations Officer, Ag Commissioner of Police, Mr Emmanuel Ojukwu, told Vanguard on phone: “Yes, a good number of arrests has been made, irrespective of their status. The figures are still coming in. The thrust of the IG is yielding positive results.”
Sources said the suspects include Engr. David Olukoga, 46, who is the Chairman, Edo State Committee on War Against Indiscipline and Senior Special Assistant on Youth Enhancement to the Governor of the State, Osunde Aigbedo, 48; Executive Director, Special Duties, Government House, Edo State, Dr. Salako Adebowale, 43, of UBTH, Benin-City; Ernest Amadasun, 49, the Managing Director, Pohien Investments and National Coordinator, Human Assistant Initiative and Adebo Ejuaoje, 46, of the Ministry of Education, Science and Tech Vocational, Iyaro, Benin City.
Other arrested suspects, according to police sources, include Isabor Larry, 34, staff of Edo State House of Assembly; Totti Omonuwa, 42, of No. 97, Igun Street, Benin-City, Ahunwan-ID Orlando, 39, of No. 2, Ighodalo Street, Benin-City; Josuah Ehiabhi, 36, of No. 11, Upper Mission Road, off Ewa Raod, Benin-City; Felix Evbodi, 46, of No. 12, Aibelegbe Street, Benin-City and Uche Chukwuka, 36, the Private Secretary to the Chairman, Committee on Environment, Ministry of Environment, Edo State.
They were alleged to belong to Eiye, Black Axe, Buccaneers, Aiye and Jurist confraternities.
The suspects, Vanguard gathered, denied complicity in the murder charge but made very useful statements to the police. It was learned from sources that the suspects, with others at large, have been fingered as brains behind the sustained and vicious inter and intra-cult war that engulfed Edo State in recent times leading to avoidable loss of lives.
It was gathered that following the development, the Inspector-General of Police ordered that robust and coordinated anti-robbery patrols of identified black spots along Isua – Ibillo Road, Ibillo –Lakpese – Okene roads while all Area Commanders and Divisional Police Officers in the area are to partake in the special operation.