Kingpin of a notorious criminal gang that has been terrorising cocoa farmers in Gbelebu community located on the fringes of Okomu Palm Plantation in Ovia South-West of Edo State, has been arrested in Delta State.
The suspect, Joshua Owiekan, was reportedly nabbed along Sapele-Warri Road along with one of his cohorts.
Nigerian Tribune gathered that some arms were allegedly recovered from them by the police when a search on the vehicle he was driving was conducted.
Reports said security men in Edo State have been on the trail of the suspect for various crimes including banditry, kidnapping, robbery and extortion of farmers at Gbelebu, an Ijaw community as well as neighboring Marindoti settlement peopled by Yorubas.
The Marindoti community, which is made up of Eto, Baba Dele, Dipe camps, had earlier petitioned the Edo State Police Command of the Department of State Security (DSS) over threats to them by a 20-man gang allegedly led by Joshua who was said to have fled Yenagoa in Bayelsa State and Portharcourt to take refuge in Gbelebu.
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In the petition dated November 3, 2022 and signed by Oluwafemi Esan, the people alleged that peace had eluded them since the suspect relocated to Gbelebu.
“Since arriving Gbelebu Community some time ago in the company of others numbering about 20 and armed with six assaults riffles, our communities know no peace in terms of their criminal activities.
“They randomly invade the camps of cocoa farmers at will, with usurious demands for money in millions of naira from farmers who can barely feed their families.
“They killed a farmer known as Alausa sometime last year over his refusal to give them money and also on the allegation that he was obstructing their criminal enterprise in the area. A head farmer’s wife was kidnapped and held hostage for over three weeks and until a ransom was paid she was not released.”
The petitioners said they want justice for the killing of their kinsman and for the several robbery operations targeted at cocoa farmers and the dehumanisation of women who were taken hostage by the gangsters.