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Sunday, August 9, 2020

Pastor kidnaps church member, demands 20m ransom

A pastor who led a kidnapping ring in Ogun State has been arrested by operatives attached to the Intelligence Response Team (IRT) of the Nigeria Police Force.

52-year-old Adetokumbo Adenopo was paraded before the media alongside three members of his criminal gang on Wednesday, July 29, 2020.

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Adenopo, the Founder and General Overseer of New Life Ministry, Lukosi, in Shagamu Area of Ogun State, was arrested in connection with the abduction of one Jonathan Ekpo.

Force spokesperson, Frank Mba, disclosed at the media parade that the victim, an employee of a logistic company, was kidnapped on July 17 while on official duty to deliver goods in Shagamu.

Ekpo was kept in an underground cabin inside Adenopo’s church building in Ogijo town, Ogun by his abductors who demanded the payment of N20 million as ransom for his freedom.

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“Curiously, the pastor told the Police operatives that he embarked on the crime for the expansion of his church and charity works,” Mba said.

Ekpo was rescued unhurt by the Police nine days after his abduction, and was reunited with his family.

The other members of the gang arrested by the IRT are Chigozie Williams, 22, Ugoji Linus, 30, and Emmanuel Chris Ani, 27.

A total of 35 suspects were paraded before the media on Wednesday, with items recovered including four AK-47 rifles, one FMC rifle, one pump action gun, two double barrel guns, one Beretta pistol, four AK-47 magazines, six cartridges, 378 rounds of live ammunition, and one network jammer.

30-year-old Udodiri Bright was arrested alongside three other members of his gang in connection with the murder of Chuks Okebata, a Nigerian-born United States soldier, in 2017.

The victim had been on holiday in his Okigwe hometown in Imo State when he was killed by the gang.

Others arrested in connection with his murder are Ekwuru Shadrack, 26, Chimerie Igwe, 30, and Chibuike Sunday, 28.

“The suspects who are one of the foremost kidnapping groups terrorizing the South Eastern part of the country were arrested 31 months after, following intensive manhunt by the Police team,” Mba said.

The IRT also arrested a 9-member trans-boundary armed robbery and car snatching syndicate led by one Yakubu Hayatu, 30.

Mba alleged that the gang has snatched over 30 exotic cars at gun point, and killed two police officers.

The gang used anti-tracker devices to evade arrest and delivered the vehicles to one Alhaji Garba in Maradi, Niger Republic.

Mba said 18 stolen vehicles have already been recovered, and that the IRT is working with INTERPOL to arrest Garba and recover other vehicles.

Other members of the gang are Adamu Awalu, 28, Abdulrahman Yakubu, 23, Yusuf Adamu, 22, Kamal Japhet, 22, Abubakar Samaila, 20, Muhammadu Abdulahi, 20, Yahaya Mohammed, 18, and Ibrahim Abubakar, 21.

Mba said all the suspects will be charged to court on conclusion of investigations.

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