The Imo State Police Command headquarters in Owerri has announced the death of the state’s ‘most-wanted’ armed robber, Ihechi Nwankwo, who was captured and killed in Umuahia, the Abia State capital.
According to the spokesman for the Imo State Police Command, Andrew Enwerem, the 27-year-old armed robber, who hailed from Amaumara in the Ezinihitte Mbaise Local Government Area of the state, had been on the wanted list of the command for a long time.
Police records show that the slain suspect had been involved in a series of criminal operations, including robbing a bank customer of N8m at Access Bank at Ahiara Junction on August 8. He was also said to have robbed one Jovita Enwerem of N650,000 at gunpoint at Ahiara Junction on June 21.
Nwankwo met his waterloo after he masterminded a robbery attack on a Chinese expatriate in Owerri in May. The expatriate was said to have been dispossessed of his N10m, while his police guard was killed in the criminal operation, according to a police source.
A statement from police spokesman Enwerem said, “On September 28, the state police command control room was alerted to a robbery attack along Wetheral Road, Owerri.
“A customer of the Wetheral Road branch of Zenith Bank had gone to the bank to withdraw N50m. On their way, along Wetheral Road, they were confronted by a daredevil armed robbery gang operating with a grey colour Toyota Corolla with number plate ABJ 951AA that blocked the convoy and immediately opened fire on the police escorts.”
Enwerem stated that the robbers engaged the cops in a gun duel but they were overpowered by the police. According to him, three policemen, however, sustained gunshot injuries and were already being treated in the hospital.
“The criminals escaped from the robbery scene but their vehicle was riddled with bullets. We, however, contacted police in the neighbouring states to be on the lookout.
“Subsequently, the criminals were intercepted in Umuahia, Abia State, where they engaged the operatives in a gun duel. One of the gang members was gunned down while the others escaped with bullet injuries and the ash coloured Toyota Corolla car was also recovered,” Enwerem said.
The police spokesman said investigation by the command’s Special Anti-Robbery Squad operatives revealed that the elder brother of the slain robber, one Chibuike Nwankwo, 42, and Chukwudi Obinwanne, a native of Ugiri in Isiala Mbano LGA of the state, were being held at SARS cell for bank robbery cases. However, the two suspects in the police custody have denied the allegation.
In a related development, Emmanuel Agene, an Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP), serving in Gusau, Zamfara State who was recently abducted with his family members while travelling along the Birnin-Gwari –Funtua road have been freed.
At a news conference in Kaduna, the State Commissioner of Police, Mr. Agyole Abeh disclosed that Agene and his family were released following the manhunt for the kidnappers by the police. His words:
“Immediately we received the news of the kidnap of the ACP and his family members, the manhunt for the kidnappers was immediately activated by the Inspector General of Police (IG) intelligence team and the anti-kidnappers squad of Kaduna command.
“I am happy to inform you that the police officer and others have been rescued and the officer is in a stable condition at a police facility undergoing check ups.”
According to Abeh, during the period of his captivity, the kidnappers gave Agene (whom they apparently didn’t know was an officer) an opportunity to speak with the police. Being a senior officer, Abeh said Agene used a coded language which consequently aided his rescue.
“Immediately we mounted steady air surveillance at a low level following the coded information he gave as to the location and we successfully secured their release” he said.
The police commissioner however said no arrest has been made yet, promising that the police would not leave any stone unturned towards apprehending the culprits.
He added that efforts were being made to track the telephone of the officer which was still active and in possession of the kidnappers.