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•My job was to lead them to victims; I got N1.5m, $10,000 —Ewa

•Syndicate responsible for 10 high-profile kidnappings in 7 years —CP

By Emem Idio, YENAGOA

A kidnap kingpin and the brain behind high-profile kidnap cases in Bayelsa State, John Ikechukwu Ewa, aka ‘John Lion’, who was arrested in Abuja, was yesterday, paraded alongside three members of his gang, at the Police Officers’ Mess, Yenagoa, Bayelsa State.

Ewa was arrested by operatives of ‘Operation Puff Adder’, in Abuja, and transferred to Yenagoa.

Ewa, who runs Lion Interior Hub, as an alleged cover for his criminal activities, is known for his lavish lifestyle and heavy spending at nightclubs in Yenagoa. He was paraded alongside three other members of his gang — Emmanuel Angase, 37; Innocent Kingsley, 31, and Timi Werikumo, 21.

Other members of the gang are still at large.

My job was to lead the gang to victims—Ewa

Narrating his involvement, Ewa, aka John Lion, said: “I was involved in the kidnapping of Danjuma. I was not aware of the kidnap; I was told they have a business together, and that I should just tell them where he is staying. I was working there in Sterling Bank, as a cleaner. I left there since 2003. I was not part of the gang; I was just misled. In sharing of the ransom, they gave me N1.5 million, then $10,000 was given to me by Emmanuel. When I changed the money, it was N7.5 million.

“Lion is my name, it is the English translation of Ewa. I played the role of showing them Danjuma’s house. I did not play any role in Akin’s kidnap, I only showed them his house, that he is my former boss. I didn’t know that they were kidnappers.”

I happened to be the driver —Charles

Another leader of the gang, Emmanuel Angase, said: “I am not the owner of the camp, I can’t really get the actual date of the kidnap, but sometime last year, we did a kidnapping operation but I was not the head, I was not even the one that brought the job but I happened to be the driver. Then this year, we did a kidnapping job again, but that of last year was Akin, then Danjuma. Those were the only two.

“What I was told was N45million for Danjuma, then I was told that Akin paid N80million. They were taken to the Sunikiri Creek area. I am not the leader, the leader of the kidnapping is Bale, I don’t know where he is.”

Gang responsible for 10 kidnappings in 7 years —cp

The Commissioner of Police, Bayelsa State Command, Mr Ben Okoli, said: “In recent times, the command was confronted with reported cases of kidnapping, armed robbery and cultism. I re-jig the security strategy with a special focus on tackling kidnapping and armed robbery.

“The strategy has paid off with the recent arrest of members of a notorious kidnapping gang by operatives of Operation Restore Peace. This gang has been responsible for over 10 high-profile kidnapping in the state over a period of seven years.

“On December 8, 2020, one Akeeb Olushola (male), 48 years, a Manager of a new generation bank was kidnapped at his residence at Old Commissioners Quarters, Opolo, Yenagoa. He was released on December 12, 2021, after paying a ransom of N80 million.

“Similarly, Danjuma Omeje, 41 years, a Manager of a new generation bank in Yenagoa, was kidnapped at his residence at Okaka, Yenagoa, on July 30, 2022. He was released on July 14, 2022, after paying a ransom of N60 million, while N30 million was cash, the equivalent of N30 million was paid in dollars.

Arrests

“Operatives of ‘Operation Restore Peace’, through painstaking investigation, arrested the following suspects — Emmanuel Angase, the leader of the kidnapping gang. He operates a kidnapping camp at Sunikiri Creek, near Oluasiri, in Nembe Local Government Area of the state, with his second in command, one Gbalipre Gamage, now at large. Police operatives recovered a brand new Toyota Avalon he bought for his wife with the proceeds of ransom he collected.

“The gang leader, Angase, has confessed that on June 30, 2022, at 6 am, himself, John Ewa, and others at large, accosted Danjuma Omeje at the entrance of his house at Okaka, kidnapped him and fled in a Blue Toyota Corolla car with REG NO. KJA 225 AY.

They took the victim to their camp at Sunikiri Oluasiri, and released him on July 14, 2022, after collecting a N60 million ransom.

The suspect also confessed to the kidnap of Akeeb Olusola, a banker, and Nancy Dickson, a younger sister of former governor Seriake Dickson, who was kidnapped on December 26. He also confessed to the kidnap of Chinonso Eze and other Igbo businessmen.

“John Ewa, known for their flamboyant lifestyle on social media, a former cleaner with a new generation bank, confessed to having collected $10,000 from the ransom collected in the kidnap of Danjuma Omeje.

“All the suspects will be charged to court at the conclusion of the investigation.”

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