CP Disu

Juliana Francis

The Rivers State Police Command has arrested a gang of unrepentant ex-convicts.

The gang members confessed that they started with petty crimes and have now amassed weaponry to advance to kidnapping and car snatching.

Preliminary investigation showed that their area of operation was the Ikwerre Road axis of Port Harcourt, spanning Mile 3 to Rumuokoro.

Police investigators discovered that the formation of the gang began within the walls of the Port Harcourt Maximum Security Correctional Facility, where members of the gang were remanded for various crimes.

The convener of the gang, Chinonso Emmanuel, 37, a native of Udi Local Government Area of Enugu State, is a father of three and had been imprisoned on charges of attempted murder.

He was in prison from February 2016 to November 2023, and in that time, he rose to prominence in the penitentiary and became a ‘korofo’, i.e. a hostel leader in prison.

He used his influence to assemble a group of men who would later serve a purpose outside the prison walls.

According to one of the arrested gang members, Onyemachi Samuel, 33, detained for cultism, Chinonso used his position to favour those he had plans for.

He spoke of a time when he had a skin infection and was stranded in prison. He said that Chinonso approached and offered him help, giving him a bar of medicated soap to deal with his malady.

That, he Samuel, made him feel indebted to him. When he was released in December 2023, Chinonso, who had been released a month earlier, reached out to him.

He narrated the story of another gang member, Emeka, who had been sent to solitary confinement for bad behaviour within the prison.

While he was there, Chinonso offered him membership of the gang and in exchange, he began sharing his rations with him.

Another member of the gang in Police custody, Prince Dengo, 27, was imprisoned for inflicting injury on a person in a street fight and was released on the 12th of December 2023.

Shortly after his release, he was approached by Chinonso around Rumuokoro, where he had begun working as a park lout (Agbero).

Chinonso was released from prison custody on the 3rd of November, 2023, and immediately hatched his plan. Upon his release from Prison in November 2023, he began to actualise his plot to unleash mayhem.

Under the guise of being a mechanic in Rumuokoro, he began reconnecting with the ex-offenders he had met in Prison.

The first person he connected with was Emeka, who had been released a few months earlier. He also scouted for recently released ex-offenders. With them, he put together a gang that appeared to be growing until the Rivers State Police Command quashed them.

The gang was arrested when they attempted to kidnap one, Theresa Anyanwu, on the 14th of January, 2023. On the day of the operation, the gang gathered under the Rumuokoro Bridge to develop a strategy on how to identify and kidnap potential victims.

The Rivers State Commissioner of Police, Olatunji Disu said: “They resolved that they would hire a tricycle ‘keke’ and use it to follow flamboyant cars discreetly before pouncing to seize them.

“They spotted Theresa in a Lexus SUV and began tailing her in the hired tricycle and when she got to Woji, they saw an opportunity to swerve in front of her. She stepped on the brakes as they got in front of her, and they proceeded to alight from the tricycle and board her car.

“They bundled her into the back of her car as one of them took over the wheels and zoomed off, but the victim did not stop fighting them off. She continued to struggle, attempting to open the back door. Her struggles yielded success when she managed to open the door and stuck her leg out.

“The gang member charged with securing her pulled her back, but she had already drawn considerable attention from onlookers. Some commercial Keke drivers noticed the commotion as the vehicle passed them and gave chase.

“The gang noticed they were being followed, abandoned the victim and the car, and took to their heels. In the confusion that ensued, the gang leader, Chinomso Emmanuel’s phone, fell out of his pocket into the victim’s car. The phone was then used to make arrests of the gang leader and other members of the gang.

“Recovered from the gang are one machete and two daggers. Yet to be recovered is the locally made gun that the gang revealed to the Police was a recent acquisition as it was in the possession of a gang member still at large.”

CP Disu commended the swift and effective action taken by the officers to apprehend the criminals and noted that the operation underscores the unwavering dedication and commitment of law enforcement personnel to preserving peace and security in Rivers communities.

He also urges the public to remain vigilant and collaborate with the police in the ongoing efforts to combat crimes and criminality in the State.

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