Operatives of the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Special Intelligence Response Team (IRT), recently arrested a 16-year-old secondary schoolboy. The suspect, identified as Fear- God Peter confessed to be a member of a robbery and kidnapping gang operating in Rivers State The suspect further admitted that he and his elder and younger brothers belonged to the same gang.
The arrest of FearGod, led to the rescue of five hostages, including two serving policemen attached to the Force Criminal Intelligence and I n v e s t i g a – tions Department (FCIID). Operatives of IRT started hunting for the gang after it abducted the two policemen, Inspector Francis and Sergeant Umar.
The policemen were abducted on May, 2, 2018, while heading to Rivers State, from Abuja, via public transport on investigation activities. The hunt was in collaboration with the Rivers State Police Command’s Tactical Unit.
This led to the arrest of FearGod. The police said: “The juvenile suspect upon his arrest, admitted to have actively taken part in kidnapping and numerous other criminal activities since he was 11 years old.
Their modus operandi was to target commercial vehicles that look new on the highway between Owerri and Port Harcourt. The gang would then block the vehicle, rob and kidnap the passengers.
The gang would later sell off the vehicle to a receiver in Port Harcourt, and take the passengers as hostages in order to demand ransom.” FearGod further revealed that the gang members were attacked by police on May, 7, 2018, prompting them to relocate to another camp along with the five hostages.
This new location was yet unknown to FearGod. IRT operatives allowed FearGod to make calls to his brothers about 8am on May 9, and put a lot of pressure on them to release the hostages.
The police source further said: “The five hostages were released in the night of May, 9, without any ransom paid. Effort is still ongoing to arrest all members of this gang. Exhibits recovered from the suspect include the handset of the kidnapped Inspector.”
Gang’s modus operandi and use of children
One of the operatives, investigating FearGod, his brothers and gang members, gave insight into the gang’s method of operation. He said: “The gang members used to block Owerri/Ameme Express Road to abduct passengers so as to demand ransom.
They keep children who act as informants on the highway. Those kids are the ones that used to inform them about incoming vehicles. The kids would call once they noticed such vehicles.
The kidnappers, who are usually about two or three kilometres away will come out, block the road with their arms and ammunition and then abduct the victims. “Later, they’ll contact relations of victims, demanding ransom.
The children used for this crime are about 10 years old. FearGod, who is in our custody, is just 16-year-old. One of the abducted policemen’s phones was tracked and recovered from him. There’s another brother who is just 15-year-old. They are both from same parents.
They are brothers to the leader of the gang. The gang is made up of different tribes, from states. “Whenever they want to operate, the gang sends the children out to the road to watch out for interstate vehicles that look new.
The gang deliberately targets commercial vehicles that are new. This is because they would later sell the vehicles. Immediately the children sight such vehicles, they would alert the gang via phone.
They’ll also inform them of the total number of occupants inside the vehicle. Once the children call, the gang members move to the road and block it. Among all the gang members, we have only FearGod in our custody.
But we shall soon get others. We were able to arrest him with the help of the tactical support unit. We tracked him down on his way to school. An inspector’s phone was recovered from him. He gave us a download of what had been happening since 2012.
He joined the gang five years ago; that was in 2013. At that time, FearGod should be 11 years old.
How FearGod was initiated into crime
The teenager, recollecting how he became a member of the gang, said: “I’m in Senior Secondary School (SS1). I attend Community Secondary School. My father has three wives. We are seven children in our family. We are four girls and three boys.
I’m the fifth child. In 2012, my dad took my elder brother, Oyibo Paddy, to where he would learn plumbing. He left the work and insisted that he didn’t want to continue.
My dad was angry with him. When he was asked what he wanted to do next, he said that he wanted to hustle. He said that he wanted something that would be bringing in money. My brother left home to meet one of his friends called Tompolo. It was Tompolo that introduced him to robbery and kidnapping.
They both started robbing and kidnapping people. My father got to know about his activities and called him to come back home. At a point, he stopped picking our dad’s calls.
On a particular day, he came to the house and dad pleaded with him to leave crime, stressing that he would tarnish the family’s name. He asked dad to leave him alone, that it was his own time.
He and dad almost fought that day. He left the house again, returned with some cash and gave to our dad. Our dad refused to collect the money. Dad said that he didn’t want evil money in his house. One day in 2013, he came home and asked me to come, but dad said I shouldn’t go to him. He threatened dad.
Later, dad went to the police station to report a threat to his life. Some months later, he visited again with his friends. Before he left home, we used to sleep in the same room.
When he came into the room, he tied me with a rope, saying I didn’t like going on errands and was disobedient to him. He said he would deal with me. He and his friends beat me up.
My elder brother asked them to initiate me. He said that was the only way I could obey him. I said no, that I didn’t want to be initiated. My brother ordered me to keep quiet; he said that he was trying to let in on what is in vogue.
My role is to cook for abducted victims
FearGod narrated that his brother and his cronies, forced him to drink some stuff, used blade to make incisions on him and later used some charms on him.
He said: “My brother is a cult member. He is also into robbery and kidnapping. My brother said I shouldn’t tell anyone about my initiation, not even my dad. They brought out a charm called Ezumezu and used it on me.
They said I should swear to it that if I exposed them or the gang, that Ezumezu would kill me. It was because of that that I didn’t say anything to my parents or siblings. He assigned a duty to me. My duty was to be cooking for abducted victims and to buy drugs for those who fell ill.
Towards the end of 2013, I was forced to go out with his friends to monitor vehicles on the road. The friend had just returned from Cross Rivers State. He sent his friend to my brother, Temple; he asked the friend to send Temple on errands.
The friend asked Temple to follow him that he wanted to show him something. That was how Temple followed him; they went to the express road. It was there Oyibo Paddy and friends abducted some passengers. I was at home, eating, when I heard sounds of gunshots. From our house to federal road is not far. Immediately I heard the gunshots, I ran away. A few minutes later, I went back home.
My brother’s friend came to the house, he said Oyibo Paddy had kidnapped some people and that he wanted me to bring food for them. They gave me transport fare to the place and an Android phone. My brother said they would be using the phone to reach me whenever they needed me.
There was a time one of their victims was sick; they called me to bring drugs. He later told the man not to be scared that all he wanted was for him to cooperate. He told the man that he wouldn’t kill him and that he needed just a small amount of money from him for feeding.
The fall and arrest of FearGod
My father has three wives, and from my mum’s side, I’m the one that used to cut bushes for my dad. On Tuesday morning, my dad asked me to assist him with the clearing of the bush. I told my father that I wanted to go to school.
I reminded him that since we resumed, I had not been to school. Dad said that I should go to school and when I return should join him at the farm. As I was on federal road, I saw some guys. They were policemen; they arrested me.
Asked what time they used to go to the road to look for targeted vehicles, FearGod said: “It’s usually in the evenings. Anything from 7pm. But I don’t go with them to the road.
My job is to take food and drugs to the victims. I don’t know anything about the abduction of the policemen. They were kidnapped on the day I was eating.
How gang abducted policemen on highway
FearGod said that he was not part of those that abducted the policemen. He, however, heard about how they were kidnapped. He said: “The gang members called one another that a car was coming. They rushed out and blocked the road with sticks. When the driver saw the sticks, he applied brakes. My brother and his members rushed out and kidnapped them. I was given the phone of one of the policemen. I didn’t even know then it belonged to a policeman.
Arms and ammunition of the gang
FearGod disclosed that the number of arms and ammunition used by the gang was unknown because, “there are combinations of many gangs.” He further said: “The gang is a combination of different gangs.
There are gang members from Calabar, Ikwere, Akwa Ibom and others from Igbo speaking states. They came together to form a group. The leader of the Ikwere gang brought three guns. He used to bring out the guns during operations.
He also has small guns that use local bullets. We are three brothers in the gang. Our last born, Temple, was also forced into the gang. The gang usually takes him to the highway to look for likely vehicles to attack.
Temple is in primary six; by September, he should be moving to Junior Secondary School (JSS1). Asked how his brothers could be arrested, FearGod responded: “I don’t know. It’s like Oyibo Paddy ran away with Temple. After operations, my elder brother hardly gives me money. He said he didn’t want my father to see me with money, so as not to suspect me. Just recently, he gave me N10, 000.
But I strongly suspected that during sharing, the gang used to give something substantial as my share, but Oyibo Paddy didn’t like giving me my rightful share.
He keeps everything to himself. Since he initiated me, he had given me money only twice. I used part of the money to pay for my junior WAEC. My father didn’t have money for the WAEC. The WAEC fee was N7 000. My father is a driver, while mum is a farmer.
But people no longer hire my dad to drive them. When my father asked me how I got money to pay for my WAEC, I told him my elder brother gave me the money. My dad was angry; he said that I shouldn’t have collected the money since I knew what my brother does for a living. I apologised to my dad.
Gang’s camp for keeping hostages
Fear God narrated: “The camp, where hostages are kept is inside a bush. I used to see the faces of the victims. Once I get there, I drop the food and drugs. There are people there who take the food and drugs from me to give to the victims. To be frank with you, no victim had ever died that I know of. There was a particular victim, a woman, whom I was aware of last year.
After she was abducted, she said that she didn’t have money. She was just a tailor. She had only N10, 000. My brother told her that the money wouldn’t do much, but that he wouldn’t kill or harm her.” Preparing food for abducted victims FearGod said that he usually takes food and drugs to the victim after school hours.
He said that most times, he would wait for his elder brother to call him. The call usually comes around 7pm. Once he gets the phone call, he would move. He said: “I don’t prepare the food in our house. I usually prepare the food in a gang member’s house. He is a Calabar guy. We call him Kpekpe. Once I’m given money, I would rush to the market to get foodstuff and cook.
Whenever my parents asked me where I went, I would tell them that I went to my friend’s place. Whenever victims are abducted, they would be blindfolded and led into the bush.
In the bush, huts had already been built. Right now, my parents are aware that I had been arrested, but they don’t know why. My plan for my life was to enlist in the army.
Why FearGod couldn’t leave gang
Fear God said that he couldn’t leave the gang because he was scared that his elder brother might kill him. He said: “I’m scared of my elder brother. He might have killed me if I had tried to leave or told my parents about the initiation. Whenever I told him that what he was doing was bad, he would order his friends to beat me. There was a time the gang kidnapped a woman.
I noticed that the woman was catching cold. I asked if I could speak with her; my brother got angry. He asked what I wanted to discuss with the woman, I asked him if he was not moved by the woman’s condition, he slapped me. He then asked his boys to tie and flog me.
I have a girlfriend; we are same age, but she doesn’t know what I do. I don’t give money to her because I don’t want her to start asking questions. She’s fond of giving me advice.
She used to tell me not to join bad groups. I now understand that the threats of my brother and his friends, using the oath I took were all lies. I have told the police that if they could pardon me, I wouldn’t go into crime again.
I would repent and become someone useful in life. I was misled by my elder brother. I’m my mother’s second child and the second son. Since my brother misbehaved, mother lost hope in him. She was looking up to me.
If I am giving a second chance, I would tell youths to keep away from crimes. I never expected to be arrested. My brother used to tell me that police couldn’t arrest him or any of us. My brother uses charms for protection.
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