Five suspected members of a notorious kidnapping gang allegedly responsible for the recent abduction of three managers of Zenith Bank PLC in Delta State have been arrested by operatives of the Force Intelligence Response Team (IRT).
The arrested suspects, who gang was said to have received a ransom of more than N50 million in foreign currencies, include Owes Okpaka, Lawrence Kevwe Egagah, Victor Dominic, Usobotie Sylvester and Alex Okoun.
A source said they were arrested after operatives of the IRT got information about their activities from one of their victims, Daniel Imani, the manager of the Warri Urobo College Branch of Zenith Bank, who was abducted on his way home by members of the gang on October 5, 2020 and a ransom of N15 million was eventually paid for his release.
The source further disclosed that after Imani was kidnapped and released, members of the gang went on to kidnap two other managers of the bank, identified simply as Mrs. Zowa, a manager of the Ogonu Warri branch, and one Mrs Isioma, the manager of the Effurun branch.
A total sum of N35 million was said to have been paid to the kidnappers as ransom in foreign currencies before the two victims were released.
Operatives of the IRT who swung into action after Imani’s complaint were said to have discovered that the kidnapping of the bank managers was masterminded by Okpaka, an employee of the bank.
Okpaka, a driver with the bank in Delta State, allegedly gave information about his senior colleagues, who he knew could afford huge sums as ransoms.
He was also alleged to have trailed his victims to their homes and gave out information about their movements to members of his gang.
For his efforts, he got a total sum of N15 million as his share of the ransom.
Upon his arrest, however, he made confessions that aided the arrest of four other members of the gang, including an ex-militant who had taken part in several bank robberies and vandalisation of oil pipelines.
In his confessional statement, Okpaka said: “I am a native of Ubogo community in Udu Local Government Area of Delta State. I am a graduate of Oghara Polytechnic, Delta State.
“I was working at the Ogonu branch of Zenith Bank as a driver until I resigned from the job in January this year. I was arrested because I masterminded the kidnapping of three of colleagues.
“My gang members include Victor and Kevwe, but I do not know the names of the remaining ones. I was the person that brought the three kidnapping jobs involving Zenith Bank staffs.
“The first person we kidnapped was one Daniel. I was the person that monitored his movements and gave out his location to my gang members. Daniel is the Zenith Bank manager for the Urobo College Branch in Warri, and we kidnapped him sometime in October, 2020. I do not know the type of gun that was used for his kidnapping.
“He was kept in our custody for one week, but I do not know who negotiated the ransom. I also do not know how much was paid as ransom. But the ransom was paid in dollars and my own share was also given to me in dollars. When I converted it to naira, it was N2.5 million.
The second kidnapping was that of a woman called Mrs. Zowa, a staff of Zenith Bank at the Ogonu Branch, Warri. I was the one that gave out information about the woman to my gang members.
“I cannot remember the exact month that we kidnapped her, but it was Victor and I that planned the operation.
“Victor also brought two other boys for the job and we kidnapped the woman along PTI Junction, Warri.
“Victor was the one who negotiated the ransom I do not know the exact amount that was paid, but the money came in dollars. I also got the sum of N2.5 million as my own share.
“The woman was kept in our custody for one week before her ransom was paid.
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