Operatives of the Police Intelligence Response Team (IRT) now has in its custody a top commander of the Niger Delta Avengers, identified as Anthony Pepple who is alleged to be responsible for a long list of kidnap cases in Port Harcourt and its environs. His arrest is coming weeks after the police authorities declared him wanted and launched a manhunt for him.
Saturday Sun also gathered that he has already confessed to the police that he is the man behind the murder of Soboma George, a top commander of the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) in 2010.
Popularly known as Urban Gorilla, he was declared wanted weeks ago by the Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Idris when cases of kidnap of medical practitioners especially doctors and pharmacists became rampant in the Niger Delta region.
Top on his list of victims were, Dr. Silas Nwachukwu, a Surgeon and Director of Capino Pharmacy; Mrs. Joy Enuvie Akpokobje, Director of Tejod Pharmacy; Pharmacist Onomake Monday, Director of Larmack Pharmacy who was picked along NTA- Uniport road; Dr. Patience Iduh, a Laboratory Scientist with NNPC Port Harcourt kidnapped in Elelewon; Professor Rosemund Dienye Green Osahogulu, the then Vice Chancellor of Ignatuis Ajuru University of Education Port Harcourt, who was kidnapped while driving along Iwofe road.
According to the police, his arrest led to the mopping up of most of the members of his gang among whom is Chief Aghara Lobito Emmanuel. Others are Saheed Adekunle, Hillary Wogu, Ogbungbada Chima, Lucky Gospel Marako, Dokubo Victor Ipalibo, Okwudili Pascal and Candy Ndubuisi Nwankwo.
On his arrest, a police source explained that he was picked up through intelligence gathering analysis by the Technical Intelligence Unit (IIU) of the police to ascertain his location in Port Harcourt.
Investigations revealed that on April 1, 2017, about 3pm, the officer in charge of IRT, ACP Abba Kyari deployed one of his teams to Port-Harcourt where Urban Gorilla was arrested.
Next to be picked was his right hand man, Chief Emmanuel who was given a title sometime in December 2014 by His Royal Highness Chukwuemeka Nwafor of Awka in Anambra State. He is known as Chief Lobito Emmanuel Aghara, Alusi of Nwanne Dinamba, Port-Harcourt branch. He was the one who allegedly provided the exotic cars used during kidnap operations.
Also among his gang members is Okwudili Pascal, a plumber whose workshop is located along East-West road by Akpajo Port-Harcourt. He confessed to the police that his own role was to feed the gang with the names and addresses of his customers who are rich.
Now in police custody and ready to spill the beans, Pepple unlike others admitted that life gave him the opportunity to be a better person but he wasted it.
“I was born into the family of Dagogo Pepple, in Bonny Local Government, Rivers State, and fortunate to secure a job with a multinational oil servicing company in Nigeria known as SAIPEM. I was employed in 1997 and the company sent me to Dubai, Italy and Romania to attend professional courses and I was paid N1.2million a month. Unfortunately, the company had a little problem in 2004 and some of us were retrenched.
“I was called back in 2010 to assist them to build a gas plant is UAE and the project lasted four years. So, naturally I became jobless again in 2014 after the UAE project. I returned to Nigeria to start a business of my own but was not successful. I decided to make use of the rifle in my possession and start kidnapping. It was then I decided to join the Niger Delta Avengers.”
On the death of Soboma George, he claimed that he decided to get him killed when he learnt of the death of his uncle in the hands of militants. “He was the one who killed my Uncle, a man who was more than a father to me. The truth is that most young men from Niger Delta have access to weapons for protection. I was bitter, so I organised some criminals to kill him in 2009. After his death, I disappeared and luckily, SAIPEM called me back to work for them. I stayed away from crime so no one could link me with any of the cases especially the death of Soboma,” he stated.
He also confessed that he has lost count of the number of persons that he and his gang members had abducted. “I cannot remember all of them but the first person that I picked up in 2015 paid N10million. It was a woman and we kidnapped her in front of her gate at Elelewo. She was taken to a remote spot at Ada George in Port Harcourt. I personally did the negotiation and collected the ransom at Agip estate and my share was N4.5million.
“The second kidnap was that of a man at Rumumasi, I personally brought the job because I know the man and his worth. He equally paid N10million before he was released and my share was N5million.
“Next was a lady who paid N7million and my share was N3million. Another man was picked along NTA road while coming out of his house, another along Uniport road and N2million was paid. Yet another was picked at her pharmacy along Uniport road and she paid N4million. The only failed operation was that of a woman picked at Elelewo. We took her to a swamp at Rumuokwusi and she escaped. We kept her jeep but police tracked and recovered it.”
On his activities as a member of the Niger Delta Avengers, Pepple said he was an important commander because he knew what it takes to blow a gas plant, pipelines and get maximum impact.