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Rivers Police arrest 4 soldiers, 1 NSCDC personnel, 8 others for hijacking trucks load of goods

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Emmanuel Nlewedum, Port Harcourt

A 13-man gang comprising of four soldiers, one personnel of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), and eight civilians have been arrested by the police in Rivers State for hijacking and diverting trailers transporting different types of goods in the state.

The Rivers State Police Public Relations Officer, PPRO, Grace Iringe-Koko, in a statement on Monday night said the arrested soldiers; Corporal West Isaac, Lance Corporal Abdul Musa, Lance Corporal Mgbe Jeoffrey and Corporal Innocent Okwoli, the NSCDC personnel, Jabila Kammangar, and eight other members of the syndicate, after hijacking the truck, deliver the goods to standby buyers waiting for the stolen commodities.

Iringe-Koko, a Superintendent of Police disclosed that the arrested servicemen and their civilian counterpart on February 17 2024, hijacked a trailer loaded with fertiliser valued at N25 million, owned by one Alhaji Sadiq Adams, while on March 4, the group attempted to burgle a warehouses belonging to one Emmanuel Nwagwu and Ndifreke Ekanem, situated at Elimgbu community in Obio-Akpor Local Government Area of the state.

The statement reads in part; “Investigations by the Rivers State Police Command, following arrests for attempted burglary, have revealed a wide range of criminal activities.

“On March 4, 2024, at approximately 11 pm, the Rivers State Police Command received a distress call about burglars who were attempting to vandalize warehouses in Elimgbu owned by Mr. Emmanuel Nwangwu and Mrs. Ndifreke Ekanem. The police promptly mobilized to the scene and arrested five suspects who had been severely beaten by a mob.

“The wounded suspects were taken to the police hospital as investigations began. During the investigation, it was discovered that one of the suspects, West Isaac (08NA/61/2653), was a corporal in the Nigerian Army serving in Delta State.

“Another suspect, Jabila Kammangar, also known as ‘Kaka,’ was an officer of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps serving in Kabba, Kogi State. They confessed to abandoning their posts to engage in criminal activities in Rivers State due to its lucrativeness.

“Corporal West, a 36-year-old father of four from Buguma, Rivers State, joined the Army in 2008 and was assigned to the 3rd Battalion in Warri. He left his base on a sick pass and failed to return even after it expired, remaining absent for over a month until his arrest. West disclosed to the police that he met Kaka while serving in the Army’s Anti-Bunkering Unit, and together, they engaged in several illegal activities. He further revealed that he came to Port Harcourt after receiving a call from Kaka about raiding warehouses, which led to their capture.”

The Rivers Police Image Maker added that; “Further investigations revealed that they were part of a larger criminal ring specializing in armed robbery, hijacking, and goods diversion. Corporal West disclosed to the police that he and other Army personnel had been key players in the group.

“Besides ransacking warehouses, they had a network of informants who provided information about the schedules 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. They would intimidate the drivers, assault them, and hand their keys to designated drivers, who would then divert the trailers to waiting receivers.

“Based on his confessional statement, the police were able to track down and arrest Lance Corporal Abdul Musa (13NA/70/10545), Lance Corporal Mgbe Jeoffrey (16NA/75/6896), and Corporal Innocent Okwoli (12NA/68/6552), all personnel of the Nigerian Army.

“Additionally, eight civilian collaborators in the syndicate were arrested: Olisa Emeka, George Obilor, Sampson Wilson, Alfred Abeke, Barry John, Auwalu Aliyu, Uchenna Nwali, and Alhaji Sofinu Haruna.

“The group’s key coordinator was Corporal Innocent Okwoli, a native of Otakpo in Benue State and a soldier stationed at Intels in Onne. Okwoli stated that he started leading hijacking operations after being introduced to the activity by an individual named Abbas and two unnamed Naval officers. Following a successful operation, he formed his team.”

The P.R.O. added, “In February 2024, a 40-foot container filled with imported clothing from China was hijacked and diverted. Same month, a trailer carrying POP cement was hijacked and diverted. The police have since recovered the stolen POP cement and are working to retrieve a trailer load of fertiliser from its receiver.”

She said a white Toyota Hilux used in the gang’s operations has also been recovered from the NSCDC officer, disclosing that three of the affected soldiers have been dismissed by the Nigerian Army after being handed over by the police.

Iringe-Koko, quoted the state Commissioner of Police, CP Olatunji Disu as applauding the brave police officers who uncovered the crime, and also expressed delight in the manner the military responded to the development, adding that the suspects would soon be charged to court.

“Rivers State Commissioner of Police, CP Olatunji Disu, expressed his profound appreciation for the swift and decisive cooperation of the military authorities.

“He lauded their prompt actions in addressing the involved officers’ misconduct and subsequent handover to the police for prosecution.

“CP Disu emphasised that this collaborative effort underscores a strong commitment to upholding justice and maintaining public trust in law enforcement institutions. He praised the police officers involved in the arrest and urged them to remain vigilant.”

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