Policemen attached to the Oleh police station, headquarters of Isoko South local government area of Delta state have arrested three notorious members of a armed gang operating with the codename ‘Freedom Fighters’ terrorising Uzere community of the state.
The armed ‘freedom fighters’ gang, allegedly been funded and sponsored by some powerful prominent indigenes and politicians from the community, are being used for maiming, and destruction of properties belonging to persons perceived to be opponents over largesse from oil companies in the area.
The three armed gang members, HardReporters reliably gathered were arrested last week Monday and handed over to the police in Oleh by some soldiers guarding the residence of a former chief of defence staff in the community.
The three suspects, it was reliably learnt have been transfered to the state Criminal Investigation Department, (CID), Asaba for possible arraignment in court at the conclusion of investigations.
Our correspondent gathered that trouble started when a former deposed and exiled leader of the community and a top government official at the Delta State Oil Producing Areas Development Commission, (DESOPADEC), infiltrated the dreaded gang, loyal to another faction with huge sums of money and bought over some members of the gang to pitch tent with the exiled leader and DESOPADEC official.
Narrating the incident to our, a police officer attached to Oleh police station who pleaded for anonymity disclosed that, the armed ‘freedom fighters’ gang is allegedly been funded and sponsored by some powerful indigenes from the community and another faction led by an exiled leader and former council chairman and top official of DESOPADEC, succeeded in using money to break and divide the gang.
“Following the division created in the gang, and the exiled leader and the DESOPADEC official succeeded in buying over some of the gang members to their side, other gang members approached the bought over members led by one Afere to surrender their arms but refused. Afere has been sent to the Kwale prison severally over robbery and other crimes.
“At this point, the members brought in the soldiers guarding the house of a prominent indigene in of the community, a retired army general, and the bought over gang members were arrested together with their arms to the Oleh police station. The lingering crisis in the community is been caused by some leaders and politicians from the community.
“The so called freedom fighters was formed and equipped with arms by some of the powerful prominent indigenes and politicians from the community for the purpose of hijacking oil largesse coming the Nigeria Petroleum Development Company, (NPDC), operators of the Oil Mining Lease, OML in the area.”
A senior police officer at the state CID, who preferred not to be named, confided in our correspondent that “different kind of pressures coming from all corners are been mounted on the commissioner of police, from the camp who bought the boys from the gang to give the suspects a soft landing, while sponsors of the gang where the boys broke out from want the CP to have the boys prosecuted in court.”
It would be recalled that since July last year, Uzere community had been in bloody crisis resulting to the unleashing of terror by the armed sponsored gang following a N20-million oil largesse released to the community by the Nigeria Petroleum Development Company, (NPDC).
At the state police command, some persons from the community who were allegedly named by the suspects as their sponsors were seen at the state police command battling for the release of the suspects.
Contacted over the issue, the state Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), DSP Onome Onovwakpoyeya, said she was not aware of any such issue, and promised to check and get back but she never did as at press time but a senior police officer at the Oleh police station, confirmed the story to our correspondent.