POLICE in Delta State, weekend, raided Kokori, an Urhobo community in Ethiope East Local Government Area, alleged to be the headquarters of the flourishing kidnap industry in the state and demolished the country home of the “commander-in-chief”, one Mr. Kelvin.
No fewer than 50-suspected partners in crime of Kelvin, an assumed PhD holder, declared wanted by the police, since last year, were arrested and undergoing interrogation at the time of this report.
The pulling down of the building, which had served as a hideaway for kidnappers for many years is a major burst through in the war against kidnappers in the state.
Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan ordered the flattening of the residence after efforts to obtain information from elders and leaders of the community on the whereabouts of Kelvin were rebuffed.
Commissioner of Police, Delta State, Mr. Ikechukwu Aduba, who confirmed the demolition of the house and arrest of over 50 suspects to Saturday Vanguard, last night, said intelligence information showed the residence was a training and recruitment center for kidnappers and other criminals in the state.
Kelvin, declared by the police as the most wanted kidnapper in the state, has been on the run following the intensive manhunt for him, in the past two months, by security agents over his daring escapades, which included killing of soldiers, police officers and warders of the Nigeria Prisons Service, NPF.
The once-bustling Kokori community was a shadow of itself when Saturday Vanguard visited yesterday morning. It was strangely quiet and most of the shops were under lock and key. Villagers sat indoors in their respective homes even at 10.00 am.
Saturday Vanguard’s Akpokona Omafuaire, who traveled to the town to take pictures of the demolished building escaped being attacked by some youths, suspected to be working for the kidnap top dog.
There was no police officer on ground when Saturday Vanguard got to the demolished building on Irevwurie Street, Kokori and the attempt by our photographer to snap the knocked down structure met with stiff resistance from the youths, who pursued him. He managed to take some shots that were not clear, as he fled for his dear life.
A reliable source confided in Saturday Vanguard, “The up-to-the-minute exploit by the police was facilitated by the Delta State Government, which gave imprimatur to the destruction of the house after numerous criminal operations were traced to the owner.”
According to our source, “Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan, who temporarily relocated to Warri, in the last few weeks, to tackle some security challenges, invited the leaders of the area to a meeting and solicited information on the whereabouts of Kelvin, but they refused to divulge anything.”
Kelvin not a spirit
“He, reportedly, told them that Kelvin is not a spirit and was living among them, but when the leaders refused to open up, the State Security Council met in Warri and decided that the police should demolish his house, as well as arrest any of his associates,” he added.
Commissioner Aduba said he was baffled that the mighty and low in Kokori appeared to be under oath not to disclose anything about Kelvin.
Aduba, who has also been shuffling between Warri and Asaba told Saturday Vanguard that as soon as he got the green light from the state government, he moved his men into Kokori to demolish the kidnap headquarters established by Kelvin because the action was long overdue.
He said the whole state was boiling because of the escapades of one man, whose gang had killed soldiers, police officers and other security agents, and a radical action had to be taken.
The police chief explained his men had swooped on Kokori and arrested over 50 persons prior to the demolition, Thursday, adding, “A decision has now been taken that the house of any known kidnapper should be pulled down and the police are going to implement it.”
His words, “Those arrested are undergoing interrogation, they are over 50, we are screening offenders, when we conclude our screening, those that are not involved we will release them, but those found connected with him will be charged to court.”
Besides demolition of kidnappers’ residence, he said their investments would also be destroyed and those associated with them would not be spared either.
According to him, “manhunt is on for Kelvin, no matter where he has fled to surely, the long arm of the law will get him.”
He said the state government has tried by making incentives available for people to give information on criminals operating in their areas, but some people were not willing to talk.
His words: “In Kokori, the people are on oath, more that 80 per cent of them are on oath not to talk, the governor invited them, but they have not disclosed anything on Kelvin.”
Recently, the kidnap gang was said to have attacked troops from the 3 Battalion, Nigerian Army, Effurun, who made an incursion into the area in search of Kelvin, killing one or two soldiers.
It was gathered Kelvin was dreaded in Kokori and his gang killed those who dared to challenge his authority or expose his evil kingdom.
Unconfirmed report said he allegedly killed two chiefs for purportedly collaborating with security agents to effect his arrest.
“After slaughtering the chiefs, Kelvin, who bestrides Kokori like a colossus, warned that he would execute as many as unveiled his movement to security agents, that is why people are scared to say anything about him,” a community leader told Saturday Vanguard.
Kelvin bamboozled security agencies in the state, last month, in broad daylight, when he pulled a daring mission in Warri, killing a number of prisons officials, as his gang ambushed warders and snatched two of its men being taken to court for trial.
The state government, as part of security measures to stem the high level of criminality in Ethiope East, placed a ban on the use of motorcycles in the area, last week. Commissioner Aduba had before the ban told Saturday Vanguard those motorcyclists, popularly known as Okada riders in Kokori were on the payroll of Kelvin, as they tip him off whenever security agents enter the town to look for him.
So long without arrest
A security officer , who spoke to Saturday Vanguard on condition of anonymity said, “Kelvin has stayed so long without being arrested, not because he is very smart, but probably because it is not his time yet and there have not been a concrete link to him in some of the cases he was arrested for in the past.”.
“I think his cup is now full, he has killed soldiers and policemen and kidnap cases have been traced to him, the evidence is overwhelming, there is no way he can escape justice now, it is not the one he walks out of police station after arrest like before,” he added.
There had been complaints about the dangerous escapades of Kelvin and his gang from neighboring communities and other arms of government before the present debacle, but Kokori leaders had always pleaded they did not know that their son was a notorious criminal and asked for time to investigate.
At a meeting, two months ago, in Ughelli, attended by the monarch, HRM, Oharisi III, security agents, Kokori chiefs and leaders, the chairman of Delta state vigilance group, Mr. Monday Ohwosiri , alleged that Kelvin and his gang killed a soldier at Ekiugbo junction, December, last year.
He predicted that Kokori community would not know peace until the people surrender Kelvin to security agents, but Kokori chiefs, who had earlier feigned ignorance of the criminal exploits of their son, promised to return back home and consult with their people.