Metro

May 27, 2024

Police arrests 4 soldiers, 1 NSCDC agent over trailer hijacking in Rivers

Police arrests 4 soldiers, 1 NSCDC agent over trailer hijacking in Rivers

By Luminous Jannamike

In a breakthrough operation, the Rivers State Police Command has arrested four serving personnel of the Nigerian Army and one personnel of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) for their involvement in trailer hijacking and goods diversion.

The suspects, identified as West Isaac, Abdul Musa, Mgbe Geoffrey, Innocent Okwoli (soldiers), and Jabila Kammangar (NSCDC agent), were arrested on May 25, 2024, following a tip-off from a reliable source.

According to the police investigation, the suspects were part of a larger criminal syndicate specializing in armed robbery, hijacking, and goods diversion. They had been terrorizing the Rivers State axis, hijacking trailers and diverting goods worth millions of naira.

“They had a network of informants who gave information about the itinerary of goods-bearing trailers. They would then dress in full military gear, lay in wait for the trailers, and accost them with a white Hilux van as they approached their location.

“They would then proceed to intimidate the drivers, beat them up and hand their keys to designated drivers who would then divert the trailers to waiting receivers,” said a source who pleaded anonymity.

The police recovered stolen POP cement goods and a white Toyota Hilux used in the gang’s operations.

The suspects confessed to hijacking a trailer loaded with fertilizer valued at N25 million belonging to Alhaji Sadiq Adams on February 17, 2024. They also confessed to hijacking and diverting a 40-foot container filled with imported clothing from China in February.

Details of the Arrest:

The arrest was made possible through a combined effort of the Rivers State Police Command and the Nigerian Army. The police had been tracking the suspects for weeks, gathering intelligence and monitoring their movements.

On the day of the arrest, the police operatives, led by SP Martins Ejeh, swooped in on the suspects at their hideout in a forest along the East-West Road. The suspects were caught off guard and offered no resistance.

According to the Rivers State Police Spokesperson, SP Grace Iringe-Koko, “The gang was arrested following investigations into an alleged burglary that occurred at warehouses at Elimgbu belonging to one Mr. Emmanuel Nwangwu and a woman, Mrs. Ndifreke Ekanem.

“A distress call was made to the police by ONELGA Security Peace and Advisory Committee (OSPAC) around 11 p.m. of that day relating to the incident and how five of the suspects were rescued from a lynching mob.

“Badly bruised from the mob attack, the suspects who were held down by the vigilante, were eventually moved to the police hospital by the patrol team that were deployed after the distress call.

“However, a matter that started off as a burglary incident, in the course of police investigation, unravelled a network of vicious armed robbers serving in the country’s security agencies, who abandoned their duty posts across different states to operate criminal empires in Rivers State.

“Two of the suspected burglars apprehended that night were Corporal Isaac West (08NA/61/2653) who was deployed to Delta State and an NSCDC operative, Jabila Kammangar alias ‘Kaka’, posted to Kabba in Kogi State.

“Both operatives who met during their tour of duty in the anti-crude oil theft and illegal bunkering units of their respective services, confessed to detectives how they usually abandoned their duty posts to perpetuate their criminal enterprise owing to its lucrativeness in Rivers State.

“West, detectives discovered, left his 3 Battalion Base at Warri with a sick pass but never returned even over a month after the pass expired. Further questioning, it was gathered, revealed that West, a father of four and native of Rivers State, visited Port Harcourt from his unit at the behest of Kammangar who had told him about the operation.”

Sources also said that West confessed he had participated in several criminal operations with Kammangar and revealed names of his colleagues who were also members of the gang.

Further investigations revealed they were part of a wider ring of criminals specializing in armed robbery, hijacking, and goods diversion.

Corporal West further disclosed to the police how he and other Army personnel – Lance Corporal Abdul Musa (13NA/70/10545), Lance Corporal Mgbe Jeoffrey (16NA/75/6896), and Corporal Innocent Okwoli (12NA/68/6552) – were leaders of the gang said to have hijacked many trailers..

Reactions:

Contacted for reaction, the Rivers State Commissioner of Police, CP Olatunji Disu, said the command would continue to partner with sister agencies to curb crime and criminality in the state.

He commended the police team that smashed the syndicate, noting that the command remained resolute in ridding the state of hijackers and diverters of people’s goods and valuables.

The suspects are currently in police custody and will be charged to court soon.

The Rivers State Police Command has urged the public to continue providing timely information and support to law enforcement agencies, emphasizing that community cooperation is crucial in the fight against crime.