Five members of a notorious armed robbery and kidnap gang who had terrorised the people of Southern Taraba State, have been arrested by operatives of the Inspector General of Police Special Intelligence Response Team, IRT.
Vanguard gathered that the suspects who were identified as Daniel Ihyar, Saheed Yakubu, Felix Agrema Teitase Nyenkwa and Lukman Musa, were apprehended following the deployment of a team of IRT operatives to Taraba State to quell the rising spate of kidnapping, armed robbery, and assassination which trailed the recent clash between Jukun and Tiv people, in Southern Taraba State.
It was learned that several criminal gangs were formed at the peak of the Jukun and Tiv crisis, which broke out in December 2019 and arms and ammunition got into the hands of criminals who were contracted by the warring communities.
Police sources disclosed that one of the most vicious gangs which was formed during the crisis was headed by a 27-year-old man, identified as Joe Agrema, who was yet to be arrested. Joe was said to have over 10 AK47 rifles in his armoury and commanded a large number of boys who had carried out numerous kidnappings, armed robberies and assassinations within Southern Taraba.
A source explained that Joe, who is from the Tiv tribe grew so notorious and became highly feared by the Jukun people and his Tiv tribesmen as he regularly intimidated them into paying him what he called security money.
The people were therefore forced to write a petition to the Inspector General of Police, Adamu Mohammed, to look into Joe’s activities and bring him to book.
The IGP was said to have acted swiftly on their petition as he deployed his IRT operatives headed by Deputy Commissioner of Police, Abba
Kyari, to trail the criminal gang. It was gathered that few weeks after their deployment, the IRT operatives rounded up four of Joe’s men including his younger brother and two of his informants.
“I am from Gassol Local Government Area, I joined Joe’s gang during the Jukun and Tiv crisis which broke out last year and we fought together but after the crisis Joe formed a kidnap gang with all the guns he got. He had a camp inside the forest and would come out with his men to either kidnap for ransom or kill.
“He has killed so many people, including one Caser who challenged him. He also tried to a kill a man who was hospitalized in Dan-Anancha General Hospital, but the man was lucky as he escaped when he got information that Joe was coming for him.
“I fell out with Joe after he sent me to my community, Diyan to ask them to raise the sum of N300,000 for him to purchase arms. My people were so scared of him and they complied with his directive but they were able to raise just N150,000 which got him angry and threatened to deal with my people.
“Few days later he brought some of his men to my community and kidnapped a man from Cross River State who paid him N250,000 as ransom before he was released.
“After that incident I stopped working with him and I formed my own gang using one of the revolver pistols my community bought for me during the crisis and started robbing people on the highway. Joe learned about it and he started plotting how to kill me.
“Some of his boys who were loyal to me informed me about the plan and I was trying to stay away from him when police came and arrested me.”
Another suspect, 20-year-old Saheed Yakubu, also narrated how he worked for Joe. He said; “I am Fulani by tribe, but I was born in Gassol Local Government Area, I am also a tailor and I knew Joe through one of my friends. I am one of his informants he used to monitor events for him. On the day he sent his boys to kill someone at the General hospital, he instructed me to go to the hospital and confirm the identity of the man who was killed at the hospital.
“When I got to the hospital I was told that the person who was killed had been taken to the police station, I went there but I was told that the person who was killed at the hospital wasn’t the main target.
“The man was killed because when Joe’s men arrived the hospital they ordered everyone to lie on the floor and face the ground and when they were leaving the man they killed raised his head to look at the faces of the people who came for the operation, he was caught and shot at.
“He died before Joe’s men left. I relayed all information to Joe and he asked me to trace the deceased man’s family and get one of them to speak to him which I did. Joe told the man that his boys were responsible for the killing and he would take care of the expenses for the burial. Joe killed three of my friends who were also Tiv by tribe.
“They were Moses, Avarume and VC who was the Vice chairman of the Youths. He said Avarume supported Jukun people during the crisis while he was the Youth leader, and that he killed Moses and VC because they were saying bad things about him. Joe also sent me to monitor a man known as Mainasara, who he wanted to kill but I was yet to complete the assignment before I was arrested. Joe used to pay me N10,000, whenever he sent me on an assignment.”
Joe’s younger brother, Felix Agrema, said he took part in only one kidnap operation with his brother. He said; “I am a student of Adamawa State Polytechnic.
“Joe is my elder brother and we were born of the same father and mother. He is 27 years old, I knew my brother was a criminal last December when I came home during the Christmas celebration.
“I used to see so many bad boys around him whenever he came home and there was a time he sent me to pick some of his guns from his girlfriend.
“In March 2020 I joined him in kidnapping some Tiv delegates who were on their way home after visiting the Governor in Jalingo.
“We blocked the expressway using army uniform and we abducted the delegates while the sum of N7million was paid for their release. I bought a car with my own share of the ransom.”