Two inmates who escaped from the Owerri Custodial Centre, Imo state, have been arrested for alleged involvement in a fresh case of kidnapping and armed robbery.
The suspects, Okechukwu Edison, 42, and Sunday Morison, were arrested by crack operatives of the Nigeria Police Force’s Intelligence Response Team (IRT) led by DCP Tunji Disu.
According to The Nation, the suspects allegedly coordinated and participated in the kidnap of a female lawyer in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital.
The duo, along with two other criminal gang members who carried out the kidnapping, have been awaiting trial for 11 years in prison custody before they escaped during the jailbreak on April 5, 2022.
Preliminary investigations revealed that both suspects, who hail from Rumuji in Rivers State’s Emohua Local area, were arrested for long-time kidnapping, armed robbery, car snatching many years ago and remanded in prison custody after their arraignment in court.
After successfully coordinating the kidnapping of a female legal practitioner in the city, the suspects were apprehended by Crack detectives of the Force Intelligence Bureau Intelligence Response Team FIB-IRT on November 10, 2022 at Rumuola junction in the Rivers State capital.
“We left the correctional facility on Monday April 5, 2022 during the attack on the prison by a group of unknown gunmen who threw dynamites at the walls of the prison and commanded inmates to flee,” one of the suspects confessed.
“We went into kidnapping, robbery, and car theft after some armed soldiers invaded and destroyed the oil bunkering site we were making a living from after the jail break freedom as we lost everything that was sustaining our family,” he continued.
They were apprehended after IRT agents received information about the kidnapping of the female lawyer who had been held captive for three days.
Police authorities directed their operatives to conduct an immediate search and rescue of the lawyer.
The lawyer was released after the suspected criminals were apprehended, and she identified two of the suspects in the police net as the people who kidnapped her and stole N5 million from her bank account.
Recounting his prison experience, the gang leader Edison Okechukwu stated that he was imprisoned because he loaned a car to a roommate named Emmanuel, who was later arrested and charged with kidnapping.
He also stated that he had spent eleven years as an awaiting trial inmate in the Imo State prison prior to the jail break, and that the attackers of the prison invaded the facility and ordered inmates to leave.
On kidnapping, he stated that they spotted the victim along Igwuruta road coming out of a shop in the city and kidnapped her, then called one Chukwuemeka Onu 25 male from his village to arrange for the safe keeping of their victim in an unfinished building.
According to Onu’s confession, he took Okechukwu, the gang leader, to Eneke, a semi-urban settlement in the city, to make arrangements for where to keep his bunkering equipment, not realizing he was accompanied by a kidnapped woman.
One of the suspects also admitted that he was imprisoned in the Imo State prison prior to the jail break and had spent 14 years there before his case of armed robbery was reassigned to a new judge.
The IRT team is still looking into their involvement in other criminal activities in the state and making efforts to apprehend other gang members.