Relieved residents of Ahoada East Local Government Area of Rivers State, on Sunday celebrated the killing of six notorious kidnappers and robbers, who operate on the East-West Road.
They were killed by men of the State Police Command on Saturday night.
The suspects, who were killed by the patrol team of the Ahoada Police Division in collaboration with the local vigilante group in the area, included a kingpin popularly known as “Igbudu” and five other members of his gang.
Speaking on the incident at the state police headquarters, the traditional leader of the area, Eze Godspower Okorobia Okpagi, the Merechoku of Ekpeye Kingdom in Ahoada, said his community had been “celebrating the end of evil and violence in the area.
Eze Okpagi, who identified the suspects as those that have been terrorising his area, said the hoodlums had killed over 300 persons in the area in the last two years.
He said: “They have killed over 300 persons in Ahoada. There is no offence they have not committed, ranging from murder, armed robbery, kidnapping, rape and anything called crime.
“This same group caused a spill at Ojemeredi on OMF 58 Total pipeline and when the company came to clamp the spill, Igbudu, the leader of the group, said that except Total gave them N5 million and reinstates two contract workers that were sacked, they will not allow them to fix it,” Eze Okpagi recalled.
The suspects had planned to attack passengers in an 18-seater bus from Benin to Port Harcourt, which led to the vehicle having an accident at Ihuike axis of the area. The bus allegedly somersaulted, with three persons feared dead, while others were rushed to the hospital.
It was learnt that while the passengers were receiving attention, the suspects opened fire on the police patrol team that was contacted by a vigilante group in the area. The police allegedly responded to the attack and in the ensuing gun battle, six of the hoodlums were killed.
Briefing newsmen in Port Harcourt on the incident on Sunday, the State Police Public Relations Officer, DSP Nnamdi Omoni, said the suspects were among the notorious gang of armed robbers and kidnappers who were terrorising people on the East-West Road.
Omoni, who spoke on behalf of the Commissioner of Police, Francis Mobolaji Odesanya, said: “Last night there was a distress call about an armed robbery attack at Ihuike axis of the East-West Road in Ahoad East Local Government Area of Rivers State.
“In a swift response, the Ahoada Police Division, led by the Divisional Police Officer (DPO) immediately mobilised to the scene and the armed robbers, on sighting the police patrol van, opened fire on the officers. While an 18-seateer bus heading from Benin to Port Harcourt was under attack, the driver lost control and the car somersaulted, while three persons were feared dead, the rest passengers were rescued. In the ensuing gun battle, the police overpowered the armed robbers; six of them were fatally wounded and died on their way to the hospital.”
The police image maker said that the “leader of the gang is one General Igbudu, who was suspected to be responsible for all the killings in Ahoada community and kidnapping of 14 passengers from Omoku to Port Harcourt, three weeks ago and had earlier been declared wanted by the Police.”
Items recovered from the scene of the incident include: four AK 47 rifles, 30 rounds of 7.62mm ammunition, one Tokarev pistol with one round of 9.mm ammunition, one Brownie pistol and two military Fez caps.
The bodies of the suspects were also displayed by the police.