- As police hunt for others
Detectives at the Force Criminal Intelligence and Investigation Department (FCIID), Alagbon, Lagos have arrested the President General of Eziowelle Community and the Chairman of the security committee in Idemili North L.G.A, Anambra State, over unlawful possession of firearms.
A yet-to-be confirmed number of automatic pump action guns with bags of cartridges were reportedly recovered from the arrested suspects after detectives swooped on their house in the community.
One of the suspects was said to have revealed that their illegal arms and ammunition are stocked inside the palace of a ruler in the community.
Several other members of the community are also on the wanted list of the police for other offences bordering on managing unlicensed armed security outfit, imposition of illegal taxes /levies, fraudulent diversion /conversion of community funds etc.
The arrest of the President General of the community, Titus Akpudo and Jude Ogbuagu, Chairman, Security Committee, followed a strongly worded petition forwarded to the Inspector-General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, by concerned stakeholders of the community represented by Messrs: Felix Okafor, Emeka Akukwe and Emma Amankwu, who alleged that the suspects are involved in criminal and fraudulent activities.
In the petition, the stakeholders lamented that their collective woes started three years ago when the president general assumed office alleging that he, in conjunction with his cohorts, introduced all manner of taxes/levies including N1m burial tax before bereaved families could bury their dead.
They also alleged that another N1m building tax to be paid by any indigene who wants to build house in the community was introduced and that they imposed illegal taxes/levies on electricity bills, security fees, magistrate court levies, compulsory donations, residence levies to non-indigenes, business permit for shops etc.
The petitioners further alleged that the suspects mobilised armed thugs to attack and unleash mayhem on the indigenes/residents an ostracize them from the community.
Worse still, the payments were not receipted or accounted for but diverted to private pockets, adding that N200m revenue generated by the community during the tenure of the president general including N20m yearly grants from Anambra State Government, as well as donations and remittances from Eziowelle improvement union branches have been diverted and squandered without rendering any account since they assumed office.
The community said when they demanded for a change in leadership in a free, fair and credible election, the suspects allegedly imported mercenaries and armed militia men into the community and disrupted the process, rigged and manipulated the election in his favor.
The stakeholders lamented that several efforts made to get the suspects to account for income generated were rebuffed and instead, he resorted to establish an unlicensed armed security outfit to silence opposition members. The outfit, they said, serves as a task force for collection of illegal taxes/levies with violent attacks on those that fail to pay.
It was gathered that based on this, the Inspector-General of Police directed detectives at the Special Enquiry Bureau (SEB), to swing into action and they succeeded in arresting the duo, while other suspects fled from the community.
Police sources said after the arrest of the suspects, persistent calls for their immediate release came from top police officers in Anambra and Abuja but for the insistence of the detectives that the suspects must be taken to Lagos with the dangerous weapons recovered from them for further and thorough investigation to be carried out.
However, sources said the suspects were granted bail barely 24 hours after their arrest based on threats from a top police officer in Anambra state who was earlier conferred with a chieftaincy title by members of the gang led by the suspects.
Presently, tension is said to be high in the community following the hasty release of the suspects without thorough investigation being carried out especially, at this festive period when many disenchanted indigenes of the community, home and abroad, are expected home.
The Police Public Relations officer, FCID, Alagbon, ASP Niyi Ogundeyi, declined to comment on the matter.