The Delta State House of Assembly speaker’s hatchet man, Sunday Okoro, has reportedly been arrested alongside four fellow gang members after engaging officers of the Nigerian Army 19 Battalion, Koko in a gun battle in Sapele.
Our correspondent reported that the shootout took place at a hotel on Shell Road in Sapele, Delta State.
Mr. Okoro, also known as “G1,” has become notorious for terrorizing Sapele and its environs. He was arrested in June 2016 after firing shots at officers of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) in Sapele and has been standing trial for a series of cultism-related crimes before a magistrate court.
Mr. Okoro’s “White Ladder” cult group was allegedly hired by Delta State House of Assembly Speaker Monday Igbuya to incite violence during the 2015 general elections.
Confiding in SaharaReporters, one of the Army officers involved in the arrest of Mr. Okoro said the gang leader has been on many security agencies’ wanted and watch lists following his involvement in crimes ranging from kidnapping to murder.
"Other gang members arrested alongside Mr. Okoro are one Mr. Dadagweye, Mr. Jonathan Agbajaja (also known as Niteman), who sustained bullet injury, and Mr. Edafe Akpoisi, personal assistant to the gang leader and his hotel manager,” the source said. The identity of the fourth gang member arrested alongside Mr. Okoro was not disclosed.
He added that officers recovered rifles from Mr. Okoro and his cohorts and handed the suspects over to the Delta State police.
The source also revealed to SaharaReporters that the Delta State speaker has pressured police to release Mr. Okoro and the other suspects, who are being held at the Delta State police headquarters in Asaba for interrogation.
“Due to pressures from the speaker, who is using one of the contractors who supplies military personnel food under SEPLAT Nigeria Oil Company as a front, has spoken to our boss, the brigade commander in Benin City, Edo State to give the suspects a soft landing,” he explained. “Following the intervention from the speaker and his front, the rifles recovered from the gang leader were not handed over to the police for further investigation, but rather they compromised the process by replacing them with locally made guns to lighten the gravity of the offense.
“My colleagues in 19 Battalion, Koko didn’t do a thorough investigation before transferring the case to the 4th Brigade command in Benin City due to pressure. The suspects were subsequently transferred to the police headquarters Asaba, Delta State. But before the suspects were handed over to the police, their initial statements were torn and changed in their favor before they were handed over to the police force,” the Army source said.
A family member of the one of the arrested suspects confirmed the arrests to our correspondent. The source disclosed that Mr. Igbuya told the families of the suspects that he would give them money to pay for their bails.
Contacted on the issue, Delta State Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO) DSP Andrew Aniamaka asked our reporter to send him a text message, which went unanswered. However, a police officer in the office of the PPRO who spoke anonymously confirmed the story, adding that the command is under serious pressure to release the suspects.