Governor of Delta State, Emmanuel Uduaghan yesterday said the army had commenced a full-scale military operation at Kokori, the country home of arrested kidnap kingpin, Kelvin Aniarah, in Ethiope East Local Government Area of the state to flush out his associates and other criminals.
Addressing newsmen in Warri, Delta State, yesterday evening, Uduaghan dismissed speculation that there were heavy casualties in the ongoing operation, saying only one person was killed.
There was a report that many casualties had been recorded, which the governor debunked.
He stated that some Kokori people have questions to answer over the exploits of Kelvin.
Few hours before the governor spoke to journalists, some gun-toting bandits struck in Warri, killing a mobile police sergeant attached to the wife of a member of Delta State House of Assembly, Mr. Dan Mayuku.
He advised indigenes of Kokori and other parts of the local government to stay indoors between 6.00pm and 6.00am to avoid any untoward event, adding, however, that this does not suggest a curfew, but a way to guarantee their safety.
Reiterating that the ban on commercial motorcycle operation in Kokori and other parts of Ethiope East stands, the governor said the Kelvin affair was a very sensitive case and if it was not properly handled, it was capable of consuming the whole community.
The governor said: “You could almost say the whole community is guilty. It is shameful that mothers who are supposed to be dancing behind their children who are graduating from higher institutions were rather dancing behind their criminal children carrying guns, backing illegality.”
He said some residents had left the community on their volition and the town was almost like a ghost town because of the criminal activities of Kelvin and his gang.
“At the end of the day, the full story of Kelvin will be known,” the governor added.
He said what was going on now in Kokori was a security issue that had his backing as governor of the state, adding, “we don’t want to create room for speculation or bias. I am approaching the issue with a very open mind.”
The governor said some persons had been arrested with in connection with the high profile kidnapping and armed robberies by the gang, pointing out that the strategies put in place to arrest Kelvin paid off, despite the propaganda stint with some misguided Kokori youths.
He confirmed the arrest of the chief priest of Kokori, Michael Omonigho, saying Kelvin had cells scattered across six states.
According to him, the chief priest and others arrested were being interrogated and details were not possible at the moment.
He said: “We must say with a lot of sadness that he had a lot of strong support from the Kokori community; even the propaganda photos.”
Uduaghan, who was flanked by the heads of the Nigerian Army, Nigerian Navy, Nigerian Police and Department of State Services, noted that the state government would no longer treat the case of the kidnap kingpin with kid gloves.
Last night, report filtered in that some youths set bonfires on strategic points in the community, protesting the arrest of the kingpin.
Soldiers were on ground in the community to forestall breakdown of law and order and they were seemingly searching for associates of Kelvin. [Vanguard]