One month after his escape from the Imo State High Court in Owerri, a kidnap ringleader, Henry Chibueze, aka Vampire, has been killed by the police.
A gang member said to be Vampire’s second-in-command, 26-year-old Obinna Elah, who hails from the Orlu Local Government Area of the state, was however, arrested in a joint operation carried out by operatives of the Inspector-General of Police Intelligence Response Team and the state police command.
Four other members of the gang – Arinze Abecheta 24, a native of Ohafia in the Isiala Mbano LGA; Chukwu Ebuka Ikeazota 23, an indigene of Ohohia in the Isiala Mbano LGA; Clifford Aheana, from Omu Awa village, Rivers State; and 24-year-old Samuel Ugochukwu from Ezisno village, in the Arochukwu LGA of Abia State – were also arrested.
A cache of arms and ammunition were reportedly recovered from the suspects.
Some gunmen had on January 27, 2017, invaded the court where Vampire was facing trial and freed him and other inmates, injuring many persons in the process.
The state Governor, Rochas Okorocha, had placed a N5m bounty on the kingpin, asking members of the public to avail security agencies of information that could lead to the re-arrest of the 30-year-old native of Abaja, in the Nwangele LGA of the state.
PUNCH Metro learnt that the IRT and operatives of the Rivers State Police Command, led by ACP Abba Kyari, laid siege to the kidnappers’ hideout in Omu Awa Forest in the Ikwerre LGA of Rivers State in the early hours of Thursday.
The kidnappers, on sighting the police, reportedly opened fire, resulting in a gun duel, during which Vampire was killed and three of his members injured. Some policemen also sustained injuries.
A police source disclosed to one of our correspondents that the arrested suspects confessed to have carried out four kidnappings after the rescue of Vampire from the court.
He said, “The suspects confessed to have rescued Vampire from Imo High Court on January 27. They also confessed to have executed four successful kidnappings after the rescue of their gang leader. A police sergeant attached to IRT sustained multiple bullet injuries during the gun battle and has been admitted in a hospital.
“Three of the five arrested suspects sustained bullet injuries. Several AK-47 rifles and ammunition were recovered from the gang. Efforts are ongoing to arrest the remaining gang members.”
The Imo State Commissioner of Police, Taiwo Lakanu, confirmed the arrest of the suspects to one of correspondents.
He said, “The ringleader was shot dead during the exchange of gunfire. Five members of his gang were arrested together with arms and ammunition. A combined team of the Inspector-General of Police special squad and operatives of the command engaged the gang.”
The Force Public Relations Officer, CSP Moshood Jimoh, while briefing journalists on the operation, said the gang had carried out kidnap operations in several South-South and South-East states.
The police spokesperson said Vampire had confessed to the murder of his girlfriend, Sandra, and eight members of her family.
“He alleged that the girlfriend stole his N45m share of N110m ransom paid by the family of one of his victims in Omoku, Rivers State. He was a serial killer who also confessed to have killed over 200 people in various kidnappings and armed robbery attacks. He claimed responsibility for the murder of Placid Ejimadu, Jonathan Ibemere and Livinus Iwumune, all natives of the Agbaja Nwangele LGA, Imo State.
“Also, the killing of a member of the Imo State House of Assembly at Orji in 2015; the kidnap/murder of a traditional ruler’s wife from Mbaise in 2015 whose corpse has not been seen till date; the kidnap/murder of a man from Malaysia at First Bank branch in Owerri; and the killing of three members of a family from Nkwerre in 2012 after collecting ransom from the family, were handiwork of Vampire and his gang members.
“They were responsible for so many kidnap and armed robbery attacks in Imo, Abia, Rivers and Delta states and other states in the South-South and South-East, where several innocent people were killed,” he said.
The Inspector-General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, said the operations of the gang were being analysed to get insights to its reach and ensure the arrest of other fleeing members.
Idris, who spoke in Lagos during a police-training programme on Thursday, said, “We will go through his escapades to know those he had killed. He has finished off families; he has killed innocent people. This was a criminal that escaped from the court under gunfire. We have to do everything possible to make sure that those people are not allowed to move freely in the society. He fired at some of our officers and injured some of them.”