Emmanuel Ugwu in Umuahia
The Abia State Police Command yesterday paraded a haul of 24 crime suspects, including a gang of armed robbers that intercepted a vehicle and murdered a 65-year-old woman after she was robbed and raped along with other women returning from a business trip.
The state Commissioner of Police, Mr. Leye Oyebade, who paraded the criminal gangs of various shades at the state police headquarters, Umuahia, said Mrs. Anthonia Dike was shot in the face at close range after the rape and robbery operation that took place along Ofeme axis of Enugu-Port Harcourt Expressway.
A member of the three-man vicious criminal gang, Samuel Okorie, 23, who was caught by police acting on intelligence, confirmed the heinous crime to journalists while police said that the other two gang members were still on the run.
The youngster could not explain why they had to kill the woman after raping her and other women in the intercepted vehicle, saying that he only stood and watched the operation having conveyed his members on a motorcycle.
The victim and other women, according to the police, were returning from a business trip in Jos and on getting to Lokpaukwu axis of the Enugu-Port Harcourt highway the gang started trailing her on a motorcycle. The criminals were able to catch up with the innocent woman at Ofeme axis in Umuahia North Local Government where she was murdered.
Oyebade also said an inter-state car snatching syndicate was smashed by the police after the hoodlums had snatched a Toyota Highlander jeep marked JJJ 872 CX and were racing back to their base in Akwa Ibom State when their luck ran out.
The Area Commander of Umuahia was said to have led the team that pursued the gang following a distress call from Finbarrs road, Umuahia, where the vehicle was snatched.
The hot pursuit paid off when the police caught up with the fleeing robbers at Umudike along the Umuahia-Ikot Ekpene road.
“On sighting the police, the hoodlums opened fire and at the end of the gun duel that ensued, three members of the gang sustained bullet wounds and were arrested, while three escaped,” Oyebade said, adding that two of the wounded hoodlums were confirmed dead on getting to the hospital while the remaining one was receiving treatment.
The large haul of suspected criminals also included a six-man gang of vandals, specialised in electricity installations nabbed at Aba and a robbery gang that stole a Toyota Sienna and household electronics led by one Franklin Ukachukwu, who claimed to be a 300 level university student.
The Abia CP said the spate of successes being recorded by his command in the war against crime was due to improvement in the police response following enhanced communication and information gathering techniques.
He said the command was poised to do every thing in its power to make Abia very hot for criminals to ensure a safe yuletide for Abia residents and those coming home for the incoming festivities.