June 10, 2017 – Photo: Meet Oniwei America, Wanted Ijaw Kidnap Gang Leader Behind Deadly Kidnappings In Lagos, Ondo & Ogun States
On the 1st of May 2017, one of the wanted militant leader Ossy Ibori aka OC was caught during romance with his girlfriend in Ajakpa area of Ondo state.
In the operation carried out by Operation Delta Safe in which a soldier was killed, Ibori and his gang members were engaged in a gun duel that ended when the militant leader was shot dead at about 3 am that day.
His men fled and dispersed but shortly after, they were said to have come together again under OC’s deputy, a Delta State indigene in his late 30s called Oniwei America.
Police sources told our correspondent that the death of OC marked the point America, a more aggressive and far more violent gang leader, took over the kidnapping and armed robbery operations of his former boss.
Police sources said he now controls three different teams of kidnappers and armed robbers, whose operations span, Ogun, Ondo and Lagos states.
Much of what is known about America till date were pieced together through the accounts of his men, who have been arrested in the last few months by the Inspector-General of Police Special Intelligence Response Team.
Days after the kidnap of school pupils of the Igbonla Model College, Epe, Lagos, the IRT arrested three suspects – Endurance Egelu, aka Jubby, 25; Stanley Irabomini, aka Powei, 25; and Endurance Bentel, 24 – all Edo State indigenes.
It did not take long for the suspects to confess that they were members of America’s robbery and kidnapping teams.
But it was not the first time the police would be hearing about America, Saturday PUNCH learnt.
A source involved in the ongoing investigation on America and efforts to track him down, told our correspondent that it first became apparent that he was a bigwig in the criminal underworld after the kidnap of three teachers and three pupils of the Nigerian Turkish International College, Ogun State in January, 2017.
Before the abducted staff and students were released, America was paid millions of naira in ransom.
But in the course of investigation, America’s family members were taken in for questioning by the police.
“We arrested his wife. We also arrested his mother-in-law,” our source, who described the suspect as an Ijaw man, said.
As more people connected to America were being apprehended by the police, more details emerged as to the scale of his criminal activities.
In fact, Saturday PUNCH learnt that any major robbery or kidnap in Ogun and Lagos states in the last few months is traceable to America.
His most recent work was the abduction of six schoolchildren of Igbonla Model College, Epe, Lagos.
Our source said,
“We have found out that America is behind the kidnapping of school children in Epe, the Turkish school kidnappings in Ogun State and so many crimes that have not been reported in the media.
“He was working hand in hand with OC before. OC was also based in that their big camp in Ikorodu with America and others. During the air raid (of July 2016) on the creeks in Lagos, OC and America dispersed into different groups and relocated to different areas in the creeks of Lagos and Ogun.
“Eventually, OC decided to move to Ondo and left some of his boys behind to be led by America.
“When OC died, America then took over leadership fully. He is so vicious and aggressive; he is more desperate than OC. That is why he is always on the move.”
But America continues to leave tears and sorrow in his wake.
On April 9, four policemen and an army captain, were said to have been killed in Ikorodu, Lagos by America’s men.
[Credit: Saturday Punch]