Nigeria: Thirteen Arrested, Including Four Soldiers, for Armed Robbery and Goods Diversion in Rivers State

Nigeria: Thirteen Arrested, Including Four Soldiers, for Armed Robbery and Goods Diversion in Rivers State

By Zuleihat Owuiye, Mamos Nigeria

In a significant development, the Rivers State Police Command has apprehended a total of 13 individuals, including four soldiers and a member of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), for their involvement in armed robbery, hijacking of food trucks, and diverting the goods to other locations. The arrests were made following a thorough investigation conducted by the police after an initial arrest was made for suspected burglary in a private warehouse in Elimgbu community, Ohio/Akpor Local Government Area of the state.

According to the spokesperson for the command, Grace Iringe-Koko, the police received a distress call on  about burglars attempting to vandalize warehouses owned by Mr. Emmanuel Nwangwu and Mrs. Ndifreke Ekanem in Elimgbu. The police swiftly responded to the scene and arrested five suspects who had been severely beaten by a mob. These suspects were later identified as two soldiers who had abandoned their duty posts in Delta and Kogi states to engage in criminal activities in Rivers State.

Further investigations and confessions by the arrested individuals led to the subsequent clampdown on the other operatives involved in the criminal syndicate. It was revealed that the four soldiers and the NSCDC operative confessed to their participation in the criminal activities.

The investigations revealed a wide range of criminal activities conducted by the syndicate. The arrested soldiers, Lance Corporal Abdul Musa, Lance Corporal Mgbe Jeoffrey, and Corporal Innocent Okwoli, disclosed that they were part of a larger criminal ring specializing in armed robbery, hijacking, and goods diversion. The soldiers admitted to targeting goods-bearing trailers and using their military gear to intimidate the drivers, assault them, and divert the trailers to waiting receivers.

The key coordinator of the gang was identified as Corporal Innocent Okwoli, who was stationed at Intels in Onne. Okwoli revealed that he started leading hijacking operations after being introduced to the activity by an individual named Abbas and two unnamed naval officers. He formed his team following a successful operation.

The criminal activities of the syndicate included the hijacking and diversion of various goods, such as a trailer loaded with fertilizer valued at N25 million owned by Alhaji Sadiq Adams, a 40-foot container filled with imported clothing from China, and a trailer carrying POP cement. The police have already recovered the stolen POP cement and are working to retrieve a trailer load of fertilizer from its receiver.

The Nigerian Army has taken swift action and dismissed four of the soldiers involved in the criminal activities, following their handover by the police. The Commissioner of Police, Olatunji Disu, expressed his profound appreciation for the cooperation of the military authorities in addressing the misconduct of the involved officers and ensuring their prosecution. He emphasized the importance of upholding justice and maintaining public trust in law enforcement institutions.

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