Imeohia Mmaku village in Awgu Local Government Area of Enugu State recently came under siege of suspected robbers cum kidnappers who invaded the community to perpetrate their heinous crime. On the fateful day, a priest allegedly led some notorious gang of robbers/kidnappers to carry out their crime.
While carrying out the operation, the gang sealed off all entrances and exits to the agrarian community. Clad in a white cassock, Rev. Fr. James Ani, in company with about eight other people held the community by the jugular and laid siege on their prey.
Also, it was reported that the gang combed parts of the community to see if they could find a prime target on which they could feed. But while the siege lasted, a team of anti- robbery patrol team usually on routine checks on remote parts of the state was passing by and accosted the gang. On seeing the police team, Fr. Ani reportedly commanded his ‘troops’ to launch offensive. Wielding several dangerous weapons, the suspected robbers reportedly engaged the police team in fierce duel which further sent habitants of the community and travellers scampering for safety.
During the clash, Fr. Ani and his gang reportedly got hold of one Inspector Cosmas Nzeribe and a couple of his colleagues, and almost sniffed life out of them. However, the suspected robbers bowed to the superior firepower of the law enforcement agents leading to their arrest. Before they were arrested, the hoodlums damaged the two vehicles used by the law enforcement agents.
The vehicles were a Toyota Corolla saloon car with registration number ENUGU XY 770 ENU and another Toyota Toyota Corolla car with registration number KPP 450 XA. In the end, Ani and three others; Ugwu Marcel, Obasi Felix and Norbert Eke were arrested and taken to custody. About five other members of the gang reportedly fled from the scene of the attack. A manhunt has already been launched for the fleeing suspects. An eye witness, who identified himself as Okey, told reporters the law enforcement agents would have been killed but for Providence.
According to the truck driver, “I ply this road very often and I can tell you that most travellers had had harrowing experiences to share about this place. It is such a bad spot and when the robbers were arrested and we saw a supposed man of God among them, not many of us were surprised because we had never experienced that before in this area.
Criminals would put on cloths meant for the clergymen to rob people. Thank God, this one was caught.” A resident of the community, who declined to give his name also lamented to reporters the agony of inhabitants of the village and travellers on the hands of men of the underworld. “Robbers attack the community almost on a daily basis. Most times, they target travellers and on some occasions, citizens of the community had been dispossessed of their valuables. It is great news that these set of robbers were arrested by the police. Let us hope that this would bring the end to the incessant cases of armed robbery and kidnapping in the area,” he said.
At the time of arrest, Ani reportedly informed security operatives that he was not a robber but a priest. However, upon intense interrogation, he confessed to his crime, saying that he was pushed into the crime due to lull in his business.
Spokesman for the Enugu State Police Command, Ebere Amaraizu, who confirmed the arrest of the four suspected robbers, maintained that investigations are ongoing while a manhunt had been launched for the fleeing suspects. “The Commissioner of Police has said it many times that there is no hiding place for criminals again in Enugu.
This statement he is matching with actions which are evident in the arrest of the four suspects. Imagine someone supposed to be a man of God, being the ring leader in such a crime!” she said. Amaraizu also informed that the four suspects would be charged to court upon completion of investigations into their crimes.