The police in Delta State, south-south Nigeria, said they have arrested some suspects who pretended to be operatives of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) in order to break into homes to kidnap and extort residents.
The police spokesperson in the state, Bright Edafe, disclosed this in a statement on Friday.
Mr Edafe, a deputy superintendent of police, said their arrest was in response to a series of complaints received from residents of the state, especially from the youth, alleging that “EFCC operatives” usually break into their houses at night, forcefully arrest them, take them away and extort them.
The police spokesperson said the incident partly gave rise to the “End EFCC” protest in Ughelli that led to the burning of over 13 trucks and destruction of properties.
He said, one of the victims who lodged a complaint to the police on 16 November, said the suspects, claiming to be EFCC operatives, broke into his apartment by scaling their fence and forcefully abducted him and took him away in a white Toyota Hiace bus.
The suspects also seized the victim’s phones and other valuables worth about N3.7 million. They also compelled him to transfer N2.5 million to them.
The hoodlums would later tell the victim that they would come for him again.
Five other victims similarly reported to the police that the suspects equally robbed them of about N15 million, while pretending to be EFCC operatives.
The police spokesperson said, given the series of complaints, it became clear to the police that the hoodlums were behind the activities, and not EFCC operatives.
“Consequently, the Commissioner of Police in Delta State, Muhammed Ali, directed the Command Decoy Squad to investigate, ensure that they are arrested and brought to book,” he said.
“In compliance with this directive, on 23 November, the Commander CP-Decoy ASP Julius Robinson, acting on credible information, led operatives on a sting operation, trailed them to their hideout in a hotel (name withheld) located in Asaba where they hibernate to plan their next operation and arrested five suspects,” Mr Edafe stated.
He gave the names of the arrested suspects as Duke Okoro, 40, a resident of Asaba, Delta State, Joseph Osinachi, 23, a resident of Lagos State, and Stanley Onyocha, 32, a resident of Owerri, Imo State.
Others are, Prince Allison, 29, a resident of Port Harcourt, River State and the leader of the syndicate claiming to be EFCC’s contract staff in Port Harcourt, and Chisom Onyeweagu, 29, a resident of Owerri, Imo State, who operates the Point of Sale (PoS) used to forcefully withdraw money from their victims’ account.
The suspects have confessed to robbing different victims in various parts of Delta, the police said.
They also confessed that they sometimes lodged their victims in a hotel for days until they succeed in extorting them.
One white Hummer bus, two locally manufactured EFCC jackets, a PoS machine and eight mobile phones were among the items recovered from the suspects, according to the police spokesperson.
Mr Edafe said six victims have identified the suspects as the people who broke into their houses under the guise of being EFCC operatives.
He said the police had launched further investigation into the incident.
Mr Ali, the police commissioner in the state, advised residents of the state, especially the youths, not to take laws into their own hands.
He assured the residents that justice would be served and that the suspects would be duly prosecuted.
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