Fresh facts have emerged on how the late dismissed Police Corporal and alleged billionaire kidnapper, Collins Ezenwa, otherwise known as E-Money, was tricked by his gang member into Police trap and killed by policemen from the Imo State Police Command.
According to one of Ezenwa’s gang members, Ifeanyi Asiegbuelam, who is presently a guest in the custody of operatives of the Inspector-General of Police Special Intelligence Response Team, his late boss was deceived by another gang member, identified as Chinwedu.
The treachery, Asiegbuelam said, led to the killing of Ezenwa.
It has, however, been discovered that Chinwedu had no choice than to deceive Ezenwa.
Chinwedu was acting act out a script given to him by policemen, who had earlier arrested him for kidnapping.
Ezenwa, unaware that his man had been arrested, called and told him that he needed some of his guns for an operation he was embarking on.
The policemen, who had been monitoring Chinwedu’s phone, told him what to tell Ezenwa and where to ask the late Corporal to meet him.
Asiegbuelam, who said that he was with Ezenwa on the day they went to collect the guns from Chiwendu, added that three gang members were killed, including Ezenwa.
He said he was fortunate to bolt into a nearby bush.
Recollecting how Ezenwa was killed, Asiegbuelam said: “One month after we kidnapped a man in a Toyota Highlander vehicle, E-money came to my house in Ikeduru with two of our gang members, PA and De-Don.
“He told us that he has an operation, but he didn’t tell us who the target was.
“He called Chinwedu to bring his AK-47 rifles.
“We didn’t know that Chinwedu had been arrested and was in the custody of Imo State Police Command Special Anti-Robbery Squad.
“While we were calling Chinwedu, the Police made him to tell Ezenwa, De-Don, PA and I to meet him at a location where we could collect the rifle and proceed for the operation.
“But when we got there, E-money sensed danger, stopped his SUV and started running.
“De-Don and PA joined him, heading to the same direction.
“The Police chased and gunned them down.
“I escaped into a nearby bush.”
Asiegbuelam would later be arrested for another crime, in an operation with another gang.
“It was while he was in detention that he heard how rich Ezenwa was.
“He became embittered.
He said: “It was after my last arrest that I realised that E-money had made so much money from our business, but he left me a poor man, always begging for money.”
Asiegbuelam, 32, is part of Ezenwa’s gang and he confessed that they had operated in Imo and Abia States, abducting several rich persons.
“Asiegbuelam, who was arrested recently by policemen in Cross Rivers State, was handed over to operatives of the IRT for further investigations.
The suspect said he and Ezenwa had been friends for five years before the deceased enlisted into the Nigerian Police.
He added that they were both motorcycle operators in Owerri, Imo State.
Asiegbuelam, a primary school dropout, is from Atah town in Ikeduru Local Government Area of Imo State.
He explained that he had to drop out after his father died when he was a still a child.
He said there was nobody interested in helping him go to school after the demise of his father.
He said: “My uncle took me to the north, where I lived with him for some time.
“I returned to Owerri and became a commercial cyclist.
“A few years later, I met E-money in Owerri, where he was already riding motorcycle.
“We became fast friends.
“After closing for the day, we would go to my mother’s shop, where she sells fruits, to rest.
“We did the job together for five years before E-Money quit to go and enlist into the Nigerian Police.
“He asked me to join him, but I couldn’t because I was a primary school dropout.
“He joined and I started seeing him driving police vehicles around Owerri.”
Asiegbuelam said he later heard in 2017 that Ezenwa had travelled out of Nigeria.
He noted that in that same year, Ezenwa came to his house, driving a dark coloured Toyota Prado Sports Utility Vehicle.
It was that day that Ezenwa allegedly convinced him to join his kidnapping business.
Asiegbuelam said: “On the first operation, we went out with E-money’s Prado SUV, which has a tinted glass.
“We drove to Okigwe, where we kidnapped a man in a car.
“I don’t know how E-Money got information about him, but I heard him talking to someone on the phone.
“The person gave him description of the clothes the victim was wearing and the type of car he was driving.
“When we sighted the car, we used ours to block it and dragged the man out.
“We bundled him into E-Money’s car and drove off.
“E-Money asked me to blindfold the man.
“When we got close to my town, he asked me to alight and then gave me N50,000.
“I didn’t know where he took the man to, the number of days he held him captive or how he negotiated the ransom collected from the man.”
Asiegbuelam recalled that two weeks later, Ezenwa came to pick him and they proceeded to Umuhaia, Abia State, where they kidnapped a man.
“On their way back to Owerri, Ezenwa again asked him to alight and gave him N50,000.
“This time, he told me that he was heading to Enugu State, that he has a hotel there.
“He said that he would keep the victim there.
“I didn’t question him.
“I just took the money and left.
“Some days later, he called and came to pick me.
“We went to Orlu, where we kidnapped a man driving a Toyota Highlander.
“This time, E-money took the man to my house in Ikeduru and kept him there for two days.
“He gave me the sum of N50,000, a Pump Action gun and asked me to keep watch over the man.
“Thereafter, he returned and took the man away.
“I don’t question him, and I am also not the only person working with him.
“He has seven men, including me, working for him.
“He has two AK47 rifles and two Pump Action Guns.
“He bought the AK-47 rifles from a man in Aba, Abia State.
“We met the man in the bush, paid and collected the rifles.
“I don’t know the name of the man, it was E-money that knew him.”
Asiegbuelam further explained that men working for Ezenwa were split into two gangs by the late Corporal.
Asiegbuelam belonged to the gang that had De-Don and PA as members, while the second gang has Chimobi, Chiwendu and Ugo.
Ezenwa also shared his arms and ammunition into two, with each gang keeping the weapons.
Asiegbuelam stated that sometimes, the gang would be collapsed into one for some important operations.
He explained that after Ezenwa and two others were killed, he escaped to Owerri.
He narrated: “I ran to Owerri, where I stayed for two months.
“I then got a call from Ugo, who was keeping one of E-Money’s rifles and we formed a new gang.
“On our first operation, we went to kidnap a woman along Onitsha Road.
“We were four persons that went for that operation.
“Ugo, his friend, Chimobi and I.
“While we were taking the woman to our camp, some policemen accosted us.
“There was a shootout and Ugo’s friend was killed.
“Ugo escaped, but Chimobi and I were arrested.
“Chimobi sustained a bullet wound.
“We were handcuffed and kept in an open cell.
“I don’t know how Chimobi got keys to our handcuffs, but we used it to open our handcuffs and escaped.
“I ran to Rivers State, but I don’t know where Chimobi ran to.
“I stayed a year in Port Harcourt and then moved to Calabar, Cross Rivers State when I felt that the police were closing in on me.
“I lived in Calabar for seven months with a friend.
“I used to go with him to a farm to work.
“I didn’t know that the police were still hunting for me.
“I was arrested in my friend’s house and taken to Owerri before I was brought back to Lagos and handed over to the IRT.”
IRT Operatives in 2018, a few months after E-money and his gang members were gunned down, launched a massive investigation into his criminal enterprise and discovered that the Corporal, within the space of two years, acquired property valued at millions of naira.
This was even as the sum of N100 million, which was allegedly found in E-money’s wife’s First City Monument Bank account, believed to be the proceed of crime, ordered to be seized and forfeited to the Federal Government of Nigeria by a Federal High Court in Owerri, disappeared.
The account, which has a balance of N105 million at the time it was confiscated, currently has a balance of N6,800.
The deceased Corporal’s 13 buildings, located around choice areas within Enugu, Abia and Imo States, including a hotel, valued at around N220 million, were discovered to have been purchased by Ezenwa within the space of two years.
He was also said to have bought 13 expensive vehicles, while the sum of N100 million was found in a bank account belonging to his wife within the same period.
A police source said: “We learnt about E-money’s criminal activities in October 2017, while he was a policeman.
“This was after Emmanuel Ofong and David Ofong were kidnapped along Nsukka-Kogi Road, Enugu by a gang of kidnappers.
“A ransom of $2 million was paid for the release of David Ofong, while the kidnappers held on to Emmanuel Ofong, demanding for additional money.
“We went into the case and through the aid of advanced technology, we were able to establish that E-money was the man behind the kidnappings, but we had difficulty in arresting him then because he was always moving in and out of the country.
“Shockingly, we heard in 2018 that he has been killed alongside two members of his gang.
“But since Chief Emmanuel Ofong, who he kidnapped was still missing, we continued our case with the hope of arresting other members of his gang.
“In the process, we arrested a banker working for him and he informed us that E-money’s wife had a fixed deposit account credited with N100 million.
“We also arrested a property agent, who assisted him in buying his property.
“We looked further into his activities and discovered that he was operating a gang so sophisticated that his gang members were not close themselves, and none of them knew where he kept his victims after abduction.
“He negotiated ransom himself and collects money in foreign currencies.
“We discovered that he gives his gang members whatever he likes as their share of the operations’ loots.
“He succeeded in preventing them from knowing how much he got for each operation.
“We also discovered that E-Money, to a large extent, used his police exposure in coordinating his criminal enterprise.
“He ended up acquiring so much money within a short period.
“In October 2019, an interim order of forfeiture was issued by the Federal High Court, Owerri to the Nigeria Police to confiscate all property belonging to E-Money, including vehicles, buildings and the sum of N100 million found in his wife, Gift Ezenwa’s account, but the said N100 million has been withdrawn completely.”