By Hugo Odiogor
Among those arrested were alleged masterminds (names withheld) of activities of the gang operating in the Ogwashi Uku and #Issele Azagba axis.
They are alleged to be involved in acts of kidnapping, murder and maiming of villagers who resisted their acts of intimidation. #Delta State Commissioner of Police, #Mr. Alkali Usman, confirmed their #arrest toVanguardin a telephone interview.
He said similar arrests had been made at Aladja and Uwvie as part of the renewed efforts by police to curtail the activities of cultists in the state.
He said: “We have made a lot of arrest and we are still going ahead with the clampdown on the fleeing cultists in all parts of the state.”
#Vanguard learned that the arrest of the masterminds was effected by a special squad from Force Headquarters, Abuja, where they were taken for questioning, while the arrest of 15 members of the gang was carried out by a combined team of military and police.
Vanguardchecks at Ogwashi Uku confirmed that the 15 members and some of their victims had also been transferred to Abuja for interrogation.
Members still threatening residents
Mr. Vitalis Ibe, the Deputy Commissioner of Police who led the operation, said indigenes of the town were full of apprehensions about the activities of the gang that had threatened to continue with or without their leaders. Some of those interviewed declined to be quoted for fear of their own safety.
The indigenes of both communities also alleged that one of the arrested masterminds had been behind series of land disputes, which had escalated in the past two years, leading to deaths and injuries to innocent persons.
Vanguard’s investigation prompted the police to take up the case of one Mr. Pius Ikem, whose right hand was chopped off in the farm last year by a cult group and was rescued by sympathisers.
The Obi of Isele Azagba, HRM Francis Jideuwa Ijeh II, whose kingdom had been ravaged by the activities of the cultists, said Ikem’s case was one of many that had been recorded in the past two years.
He said the cult group had been responsible for criminal acts, ranging from amputation of arms and killings to plucking of eyes.
#Mr. Charles Ogbolie, who is handling the human rights’ violations of the victims, gaveVanguarda copy of the petition he had written to the Inspector General of Police.
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