Onitsha – The leadership tussles between ‘Keke Napep’ and ‘Okada’ operators in Awka, the Anambra State that led to the death of 16 suspected cultists has been linked to leadership tussle among the groups.
Daily Independent gathered that one of the arrested suspects, Chukwudi Machie, a confessed member of the Black Axe Confraternity and vice chairman of Okada riders in Awka South Local Government Area gave this indication at the police headquarters in Awka.
Speaking to newsmen during a parade of the suspects, a 42-year old Machie revealed that the cult war was inspired by the struggle for the chairmanship position of the shuttle drivers in Awka South Anambra State.
According to him, he became the member of Black Axe at the University of Jos 15 years ago but renounced membership in his church 11 years ago.
Machie explained that he was co-opted to be part of moves to broker a truce between the two rival cults, Black Axe Confraternity and Supreme Vikings Confraternity when the fight started in January 2018.
In his word, “Not less than 90 per cent of the transporters in Awka are cultists. While ‘Keke’ people belong to one cult, Okada belongs to another,” he revealed.
Narrating further how he was approached by a man to step in and settle the crisis that later snowballed into a fierce fight that led to the death of many people in Awka.
Earlier in his speech, the Anambra State Commissioner of Police, Garba Baba Umar, said that the police command has reviewed its crime prevention strategies following the recent security threat posed by cult activities in the state.
Umar revealed that the Nigerian Police have “embarked on intensive patrol, aggressive raid of black spots, flashpoints and other criminal hideouts in order to nip in the bud all forms of crime and criminality in the state.”
The CP noted that the new measures and strategy put in place has resulted in the arrest of 35 suspected cultists within Awka, Obosi, Enugu-ukwu and Okija.
According to him, some of the suspects confessed to being members of Black Axe or Vikings Fraternity and have a direct link with the ongoing cult activities in Awka and the alleged murder of one Chukwudozie Patrick Nwosu, Sunday Nwaboko, Victor Omemma, Ifeanyi Ndubuisi and Nnamdi Anih at various areas within Awka metropolis.
While the names of the suspects that confessed to the murders were given as Chukwudi Machie, Chukwudi Igwebueze, Onyeka Igbanugo, Ifeanyi Anazoba and Chukwuemeka Nwokoye.
Other confessed cultists paraded were Arinze Chimezue, Junior Vikings; Obunabo Uba, Black Dagger; Elenem Victor, Black Dagger; Chinwuba Ugochukwu, Black Dagger; Okwuchukwu Okafor, Senior Vikings and Egwele Chibuokem, Junior Vikings.
Others are Okafor Chiemerie, Junior Vikings; Akametaru Chibuike, Junior Vikings; Okeke Chidubem, Junior Vikings; Ibeh Chimezie, Junior Vikings; Ezeokoli Izuchukwu, Black Axe; Aka Izuchukwu, Junior Vikings; Obighara Nzube; Junior Vikings and Ikueze Chibuzor, Junior Vikings.
Other members are Ezeokoli Chukwuebuka, Buccaneer; Nwabueze Chibuike, Junior Vikings; Ezeh Chukwuemeka, Black Axe. Others are Okwuchukwu Odilika, Buccaneer; Obi Chukwunonye, Junior Vikings; Udemmadu Obichukwu, Junior Vikings; Amobichukwu Izuogu, Coastal Marine Patrol; Ekene Uga, Junior Vikings; Okpara Nonso, Junior Vikings; Chimezie Ifeduba, 2-2; Arinze Chiemelie, 2-2; Okwuchukwu Okafor, SVC; Chukwuma Aguneyie, Junior Vikings (JVC).
Alongside the cultists were 11 arrested robbery suspects as well as some exhibits the police recovered during the operation which included one AK 47 rifle, one English Beretta Pistol, two locally made double barrel pistols, one single barrel shotgun, 15 rounds of 7.62 live ammunition, three cartridges and a red Toyota Matrix car with registration number EKY 879 EN snatched from one Evbadolovi Omorogbe at Benin City, Edo State.
Garba Umar further disclosed that investigations are still on to fish out other criminals while charging parents, community leaders, religious leaders and members of the public to play their role of availing the police and other security agencies of vital information that would help them curb crime in the state.