Thursday 26 September 2013

Army, DSS nab Delta kidnap kingpin, Kelvin - Vanguard

Soldiers at Kokori
By Emma Amaize, Regional Editor, South-South, Jimitota  Onoyume, Festus Ahon & EGUFE Yafugborhi

PORT HARCOURT—A combined team of Army and Department of State Services, DSS, operatives, in a coded military operation, seized, in the early hours of yesterday, the most wanted kidnapper/armed robbery kingpin in Delta State, Kelvin Oniarah, and five of his gang members, in an undisclosed hotel in Port-Harcourt, Rivers State.

There was, however, a shootout, yesterday afternoon, between Kelvin’s ‘boys’ in his country home, Kokori, Ethiope-East Local Government Area, Delta State, and soldiers, who arrested the chief priest (Ose Igba), said to have provided native charms for Kelvin and his gang to evade arrest, over the years. The diminutive kidnap kingpin, rounded up in the hotel, where he was hibernating with his gang had been terrorizing the state and other states in the South-South, South-East and South-West for some years running.

The gangster who is likened to the notorious robbery kingpin, Lawrence Nomanyagbon Anini, dreadfully called ‘The Law’ in the defunct Bendel State, was allegedly “picked up like an ant’ with his lieutenants, according to an informed security source. Two members of the gang reportedly escaped arrest. Vanguard gathered that Kelvin and five others arrested with him were flown to Abuja by the DSS, for further interrogation.
Military men on the streets of Kokori, Delta State, yesterday

“Kelvin knew he was being monitored, but did not know his end was so near. He lived like a big boy, traversing Delta, Port-Harcourt, Enugu, Ibadan and Lagos, where he has tentacles and business interest,” a source added. It was learnt the police were sidetracked in the operation by the army and DSS, as neither the police in Rivers and Delta states were aware of the operation until it was concluded.

Trapped one week after issuing threat to FG: He was rounded up exactly one week after he surfaced in his country home, Kokori, in Ethiope-West Local Government Area of Delta State, Tuesday, September 17, and issued a 60-day ultimatum to the State and Federal Governments to develop the oil community or his group would blow up oil facilities in the area.

Challenge to security operatives

The hoodlum, who described himself as leader of the newly-found Liberation Movement of the Urhobo People, LIMUP, said he had become a freedom fighter and vowed to carry out his threat if the ultimatum was not complied with.

Vanguard gathered that the security agencies in the country were infuriated by the impudence displayed by Kelvin in issuing a 60-day ultimatum to Federal Government and even challenging security operatives to a combat. It was learnt that the top echelon of the army and DSS strategized and mapped out a ‘battle plan”on how to arrest Kelvin. DSS operatives did the intelligence part of the work by tracking the kingpin to the hotel, where he fled to in Port-Harcourt after breaching security in DeltaState, last week.

Sources told our reporters that soldiers gave the DSS the needed back up and as soon as it was established that he was in the hotel, the soldiers moved into the hotel and “the rest is history.” “Unknown to Kelvin, who thought the hotel was safe for him, security operatives got information about his presence in the lodge and carefully monitored him before they struck at the crack of dawn.” His hometown, Kokori, has been taken over by soldiers, said to be on internal military operation, since Monday.

How police arrested 2, rescued 3 kids in Delta: In a related development, the police in Delta State, also put up a sterling performance when a crack team of detectives attached to ‘B’ Divisional Police Headquarters, Ughelli, acting on information, swooped on a set of Kelvin’s boys and effected the rescue of three secondary school children, earlier kidnapped, along Agbarho Otor Awuhire road, Ughelli, at about 1605 hours, on Monday, September 23. The suspects arrested were Oke Felix ‘m’ 23 years and Eruna Ebiode ‘m’ 27 years with one double barrel short gun, 10 cartridges and one Toyota Siena Estate Wagon vehicle with number plate, LEH 196 AA.

Delta State Police Command in a statement by Onyire Kaneneolisa, an Assistant Commissioner of Police, for the Commissioner, Mr. Ikechukwu Aduba, said, “Efforts are on to effect the arrest of one of the kidnappers who escaped in the course of the arrest.”

Arrest‘ll lessen on-going battle against kidnappers – police

The police said, “The arrested two hoodlums have made useful statements touching on their criminal exploits, including the fact that they are part of the gang of the criminal kingpin – Kelvin Oniarah whose arrest was affected at the early hours of Wednesday, September 25, 2013, at a hotel in Port-Harcourt by a combined team of the military and DSS operatives. The arrest of the kingpin will greatly mellow the ongoing battle against kidnappers in the state.

At the Rivers State Command of DSS, mum was the word when Vanguard visited as the officer, who one of our reporters met at the gate refused him entry. He did not confirm the arrest, but simply said the state Director had no mandate to speak on the matter without directives from Abuja. The official subsequently directed our reporter to reach out to the headquarters in Abuja for any media enquiry.

Commanding Officer of the 222 battalion, Ughelli, Lt Col Ibeh, told Vanguard when contacted said men of the Joint Task Force, JTF, have been on ground in Kokori, in the last few days. On the reported arrest of Kelvin, he said, “That is what we are hearing but there is no official confirmation yet. All I can tell you is that our men are ground.”

At 10.47 am when Vanguard reporters visited Kokori, Wednesday, soldiers were seen at strategic locations in the community and there was anxious tranquility. Few hours later, there was exchange of gunfire between them and the youths, supposedly Kelvin boys.

A security chief, who deconstructed the Kelvin phenomenon to Vanguard said, “Kelvin was regarded as just one of the brigands in DeltaState in top security circles and though the police had been unable to pin him down, it was assumed that one day, he would be arrested. But he shot himself on the leg when he came to Kokori on September 17 to issue ultimatum to the Federal Government. We were not happy with the insult. How can he be giving ultimatum to government, is it because some security agents were playing with him or what?

Intelligence report

“However, some of us were not comfortable with the position of the police that Kelvin did not appear in Kokori to issue his threat, intelligence report indicated so. That was why the police, I must confess, was not taken into confidence. Because as it were, they sounded as if they did believe the Kelvin ultimatum.

The reason Kelvin was not arrested all this while was because he was not really taken very seriously. The job was left for the police alone, but when he issued his 60-day ultimatum, we read in the newspapers and we have been following the special report in Vanguard newspapers, so we knew we had to put him away before he begins to think that he is a hero.”

According to the source, “Kelvin is really a pain in the neck; he was the one in-charge of the major kidnap operations in Delta, Edo and other states. He made the Auchi sector in Edo state very dangerous. I know his gang was responsible for the recent kidnap of Chief Ozekhome, SAN. He has kidnapped top officials in DeltaState and the son of a top official of the Delta State Government and collected huge ransoms before his victims were released.

He is known to some policemen and because of his monetary power; he gets away and enjoys his loot in Ibadan, Port-Harcourt and Lagos. That he frequents Port-Harcourt is known by some top security persons in Delta State, but I think the problem was mustering the courage to confront him.”

The kidnap kingpin shocked security operatives when he pulled a daring mission in Warri, some months ago, killing a number of prisons officials, as his gang ambushed warders and snatched two of  its men being taken to court for trial. Kelvin, whose gang had allegedly killed many soldiers and police officers in the past, became a principal target when his gang purportedly killed some soldiers.


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