…Hunt for others
By Emma Nnadozie, Crime Editor
Detectives at the Force Criminal Investigations Department, FCID, Alagbon, Lagos have arrested the President General of Eziowelle community and Chairman of the security committee in Idemili North L.G.A, Anambra State over unlawful possession of firearms.
A yet-to-be confirmed number of automatic pump action guns with bags of cartridges were reportedly recovered from the arrested suspects after detectives swooped on their house in the community. One of the suspects was said to have revealed that their illegal arms and ammunition are stocked inside the palace of a ruler in the community.
Several other members of the community are also on the wanted list of the police for other offences bordering on managing unlicensed armed security outfit, imposition of illegal taxes /levies, fraudulent diversion /conversion of community funds etc.
The arrest of the President General of the community, Titus Akpudo and Jude Ogbuagu, Chairman, Security Committee, resulted from a strongly worded petition forwarded to the Inspector-General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, by concerned stakeholders of the community represented by Messrs Felix Okafor, Emeka Akukwe and Emma Amankwu alleging that the suspects are involved in criminal activities.
In the petition, the stakeholders lamented that their collective woes started three years ago when the President General assumed office alleging that he, in conjunction with his cohorts, introduced all manner of taxes/levies including N1m burial tax before bereaved families could bury their dead.
They also alleged that another N1m building tax to be paid by any indigene who wants to build house in the community was introduced and that they imposed illegal taxes/levies on electricity bills, security fees, magistrate court levies, compulsory donations, residence levies on non-indigenes as well as business permit for shops etc.
The petitioners further alleged that the suspects mobilized armed thugs to attack and unleash mayhem on the indigenes/residents and ostracized them from the community. “Worse still, the payments were not receipted or accounted for but diverted to private pockets.
N200m revenue generated by the community during the tenure of the President General including N20m annual grants from Anambra state government, as well as donations and remittances from Eziowelle improvement union branches have been diverted and squandered without rendering any account since the President General assumed office.
Unfortunately, when the traumatized residents of the community demanded for a change in leadership in a free, fair and credible election, the suspects and their gang of terror imported mercenaries and armed militia men into the community and disrupted the process, rigged and manipulated the election in his favor.”
The stakeholders lamented that several efforts made to get the suspects to account for income generated were rebuffed and instead, he resorted to establish an unlicensed armed security outfit to silence opposition members. The outfit, they said, serves as a task force for collection of illegal taxes/levies and assaults those that fail to pay.
It was gathered that based on this, the Inspector-General of Police directed detectives at the Special Enquiry Bureau, SEB, to swing into action and they succeeded in arresting the President General and the Chairman of the security committee. Other suspects fled from the community.
Police sources said that after the arrest of the suspects, persistent calls for their immediate release unconditionally, came from top police officers in Anambra state and Abuja but for the insistence of the detectives that the suspects must be taken to Lagos with the dangerous weapons recovered from them for further and thorough investigation to be carried out.
However, sources said the suspects were granted bail barely 24 hours after their arrest based on threats from a top police officer in Anambra state who was earlier conferred with a chieftaincy title by members of the gang led by the suspects.
Now, tension has enveloped the community following the questionable release of the suspects without thorough investigation during this festive period when many disenchanted indigenes of the community, home and abroad, are expected home.
When contacted for comments, the Police Public Relations officer, FCID, Alagbon, Lagos, ASP Niyi Ogundeyi told our reporter: “I will contact the team leader of the unit investigating the case to speak with you. On my part, I will contact the Force Public Relations Officer in Abuja before speaking with you.”