A self-acclaimed female cleric, who is also the wife of the leader of a kidnap gang, identified as Celestine Okuzor Nova, and four others, have been arrested in Delta State.
The kidnap suspects, Franca Okuzor (the acclaimed pastor), Kabi Kester and Henry Owojero, were arrested in connection with the kidnapping of a business woman who was returning from her shop at about 8:30 p.m on July 19.
A masked three gunmen allegedly waylaid the woman and her children at the entrance of their house at Obinoba in Nkwani Local Government Area of the state and whisked away the victim.
Acting on the directive of the Commissioner of Police, CP Wale Abass, operatives of Obiaruku Police Station and the Special Anti-Kidnapping and Cyber-Crime Squad (SAKCCS) launched a manhunt for the hoodlums and rescued the kidnapped victim.
The victim was, however, freed after coughing up N2 million and parting with jewellery.
In a statement by Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), Bright Edafe on Sunday, said with relevant information, the command embarked on an intelligence-led investigation which paid off when the operatives arrested 43-year-old Kabi Kester on Friday who confessed to be a member of the gang that kidnapped the woman.
“His confession led to the arrest of two other suspects namely Henry Owojero ‘m’ aged 42yrs, and Franca Okuzor ‘f’ a self-acclaimed pastor and wife to the leader of the gang named Celestine Okuzor Nova (at large) in whose house the victim was held captive for six days.
“They all confessed to their involvement in the kidnap and named four others Celestine Okuzor Nova, Uche (surname unknown), Chinedu Etudo, and Nweke (surname unknown) as members of the gang. An intensive manhunt for the other gang members is ongoing,” Edafe, who’s a Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP), stated.
Meanwhile, on Thursday at about 4:00p.m, Police operatives attached to Dragon Patrol, while on visibility and confidence-building patrol along Benin/Asaba Expressway at Issele-uku, also intercepted a commercial Sienna vehicle and subjected the passengers and their bags to a search.
Edafe said during the search, 250 rounds of live cartridges concealed in a bag were recovered.
According to him, the owner of the bag, identified as Omoruyi Osemudiamen, 46, was arrested and taken into custody while further investigation is ongoing.
In another development, Edafe said, acting on a tip-off, on August 3, a combined team of Buffalo and Eagle-Net Special Squad of the command also stormed Summit Road in Asaba and arrested one James Moro, 23, and recovered a locally-fabricated pump action gun from him, adding that the suspect had been dispossessing innocents of their valuables at night along the axis.
He quoted CP Abass as calling on “members of the public not to relent when they face any security challenges, but report crimes to the command.