The story of Police Corporal Collins Ezenwa, 31, father of one, who embraced crime while still on active duty as a cop started in Imo State, Thecitypulsenews learnt.
Ezenwa was a vulcaniser, but sometimes in 2009, he decided to enlist into the Nigeria Police.
He had a charming personality and warmed his way into the heart of a senior police officer, Taiwo Lakanu, who is now a Deputy Inspector General of Police. Lakanu made him his personal driver.
Nobody knows for such when Ezenwa took to crime, but it was clear he lived a double life. Like most policemen his rank, he was on a N47,000 monthly salary. He, however, lived a life of opulence.
What everyone knows for a fact today, is that Ezenwa became stupendously rich. Before then he dated an undergraduate identified as Gift, who he finally walked down the aisle with.
He was so rich that he had to quit his N47,000 paying police job. He bought at least 13 buildings in different states, bought a hotel and had 10 choice cars in his possession, two tippers and trucks. When his some of his houses were searched, police recovered three AK47 rifles. It was further alleged that he buried dollars in a pit, which some of his family members had allegedly disappeared with.
In a particular street in Enugu State, he was alleged to have bought two buildings and used to flit from one to the other to sleep. He opened a fixed deposit account, using his wife as one of the signatories.
The money in the account was N100 million and the account officer is his wife’s brother. Detectives have since discovered that before Ezenwa married his wife, she had less than N20,000 in her bank account.
Ezenwa resigned from the police as a corporal on N47,000 monthly salary in November 2017, and travelled to Malaysia for only a month. He returned from Malaysia to start spending money like King Croesus, buying buildings, cars and businesses.
A brief glance at his timeline showed that he joined police in 2009, started making billions in 2017 and was killed on January 27, 2018. He was estimated to be worth billions and has a multi-billion naira properties scattered all over eastern states. With his wealth came a nick name, E-Money. It is strongly suspected that Ezenwa had been hobnobbing with criminals even while working as a police, who was supposed to fight against crimes and criminals.
IRT uncovered during it investigations that Ezenwa, a mere Corporal, working with the Imo State Police Command, had links with robbery gangs, who specialised in hijacking oil vessels on the high sea and selling off its products to waiting buyers.
“Ezenwa bought several choice properties including hotels and exotic cars within Imo, Abia and Enugu State, within the space of two years. One of his friends Onyekere, advised him to quit his police job and travel out of the country as people may start suspecting that he could have made his money through crime. E-money left his police job, traveled out of the country for weeks and when he returned he bought a hotel in Enugu and made a deposit of N100m to a fix deposit account which is wife was also a signatory,” said a police source.
IRT commenced investigations into the activities of Ezenwa in October 2017, Emmanuel and David Ofong, were kidnapped along the Nsukka Kogi Road, Enugu, by a gang of kidnappers and a ransom of $2 million was demand and paid for the release of one of the victims, David Ofong. The kidnappers held on to Emmanuel Ofong and demanded for additional money.
IRT went into the case and through the aid advance technology was able to establish that Ezenwa was the man behind the kidnapping.
The police source said: “We had difficult arresting him because he was always moving in and out of the country, and he moves with various vehicle numbers.
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 to arrest more other members of his gangs.
“In the process, we arrested a banker working for him and he informed us that his wife had a fix deposit account credited with N100 million and we also arrested a property agent who assisted him in buying his properties. We learned that all the vehicles bought by Ezenwa were taken into hiding by relatives and we went after them and succeeded in recovering some of them.”
Ezenwa’s downfall started after a gang of kidnappers were arrested by operatives of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad Imo State Police Command.
The SARS men ordered the suspects to leave their phone lines open. They had many calls; one of their callers was Ezenwa. The corporal, unaware he was speaking on an open line, allegedly said too many implicating things, while being egged by his partners in crime, who were already down.
The SARS men began a meticulous and painstaking plan on how to catch Ezenwa and smash his gang. While SARS operatives in Imo State were hunting for a robbery gang, IRT men were looking for the kidnappers that abducted a politician and then Chief Emmanuel Ofong.
A Police source said: “Four of his buildings, including a hotel, were recovered in Enugu State. Seven were traced to Owerri and Okigwe areas of Imo State, while one was traced to Aba, Abia State. Seven cars, two SUVs, one Hilux truck, a commercial bus, two tipper-lorries and a trailer truck were equally recovered at different locations within the South-East. All the seized property are currently registered as exhibit in custody of the Police and a motion to have them forfeited have been filed in Owerri High court.
Controversy has, however, continued to trail the death of Ezenwa, with human rights activists insisting that he was killed by the police while driving in his car with his two cousins. The rights activists however agreed that Ezenwa’s wealth was inexplicable and mind-boggling.
A hotel linked to Ezenwa in Enugu was estimated to worth N220 million. He also had two duplexes and eight blocks of flats worth a combined N180 million.
One of the victims abducted by Ezenwa’s gang is honourable Tochukwu Okeke, living in Enugu State. He was released after paying ransom. That would be the second Okeke had been kidnapped for ransom. The first time, he was kidnapped along with his wife. Okeke said that both experiences were quite traumatizing.
After he was released, he went to lodge a complaint with the Inspector-General of Police Special Intelligence Response Team (IRT), led by a Deputy Commissioner of Police, Abba Kyari. The Unit started investigation.
The IRT operatives were still trying to track and nail the kidnappers of Okeke, when Ezenwa was shot and killed.
The gory pictures of his corpse were sighted by many people on the Internet. One of those that saw the picture was Okeke. He identified the corpse to IRT operatives.
Thus, SARS, Imo State Command, had to handover the investigation to IRT Unit to synergise and conclude its ongoing kidnap investigation. The investigation is still being handled by IRT, Lagos branch, headed by a Chief Superintendent of Police, Philip Rieninwa. This means the investigation is led by Rieninwa.
Although Kyari is the head of IRT Unit nationwide, but his office is at Abuja. He can only be contacted on major decisions and if his expertise and strategy is needed to crack a case that was beginning to prove difficult.
It was in the course of the investigation that the operatives found out that Ezenwa was obscenely rich. They also discovered that he had fleet of cars, houses, hotel and money. His wife was invited and quizzed.
IRT froze accounts belonging to Ezenwa, making it impossible for Gift to make withdrawals. Gift, incidentally is a nursing mother; life became too tough for her.
The case took another twist after Gift went to Human rights activists, including Amnesty International to alleged that IRT operatives were attempting to take over her late husband’s businesses and property.
She also claimed that Rieninwa and other Lagos detectives were withdrawing money from her husband’s account for their private pockets and collecting rent on her husband’s building in Enugu State.
A researcher with Amnesty International, Damian Ugwu, who worked on the case, alleged that IRT personnel started aiming for Ezenwa’s properties immediately they took over the case from the Imo State Police Command.
Amnesty International disclosed that it was able to locate two bank accounts, with eastern names, where IRT operatives allegedly compelled Ezenwa’s tenants to be paying money into.
Ugwu noted: “IRT dubiously took over the case from Imo State Command and started identifying possible assets of Ezenwa shortly after he was killed. They threw his wife and infant son out of some of his properties, including his hotel, and started collecting rents from them. More than a year later, they have not approached any court for an order to confiscate the properties. Our findings showed that they were just collecting rents and putting the money in private accounts for their own use.”
Ugwu explained that Ezenwa was four months pregnant when her husband was killed. She gave birth on June 17. She was arrested less than two months later on August 11 and taken to Lagos, where she was detained for two weeks. She spent two nights in police custody in Enugu before being moved to Lagos, she said.
According to Gift, IRT operatives ordered her release without charges on the grounds that she would bring all the original titles of the properties to them, a demand she found suspicious. But even without giving the documents to them, IRT ordered all identified properties confiscated.
Ugwu further disclosed that Ezenwa’s hotel, De-Inglish Hotels and Resort in Enugu, estimated at N220 million, had been taken over by the IRT, which allegedly had been receiving proceeds of lodging and other services to private bank accounts.
“Eight blocks of flats on 21, Edinburgh Road, New Layout, Enugu, which was also linked to Ezenwa, is now being managed by the police squad,” Ugwu alleged.
The two Zenith bank accounts bear names of Tochukwu Okeke and Ozougwu Stanislaus.
Amnesty International warned IRT to cease further victimisation of Gift and demanded immediate return of her late husband’s properties to her until there was a court pronouncement on the matter.
Ugwu added: “No one really knows how Ezenwa made his money. But for a police team that has long portrayed itself being devoid of criminality to expropriate the properties he left behind without any court order is unfortunate. Several family members and associates of Ezenwa were also arrested and victimised, triggering a slew of fundamental rights suit at various jurisdictions in the Southeast. All the cases about the matter in different courts have to do with police abuses and people begging the courts to save them from police harassment and confiscation of their properties without any evidence they were fully or partially-owned by Ezenwa. But there is no single case that was instituted by the police for the confiscation of any of Ezenwa’s property or those of others that the police have taken over illegally.”
Gift said that all her bank accounts were frozen, leaving her in penury with her six-month-old baby. She accused IRT of seizing the only N50,000 she had on her when she was picked up in August 2017 and put through a harrowing experience with her infant in an unkempt detention facility.
Gift and Amnesty International spoke with some online journalists and the story was published. The story, however, alleged Kyari of rights violations and money diversion, even though the investigation was led by the Lagos State office, under supervision of Rienniwa. Kyari had since denied the allegations leveled against him and members of his Unit. Kyari had also threatened to press defamation charges against online journalists defaming his name.
Kyari explained that Gift was arrested and detained because she was a suspect in the alleged crimes of her late husband, and was granted tentative bail without charges as a nursing mother.
But Barrister Nosa Uhumwangho, an Assistant Superintendent of Police, said he had filed for forfeiture of the asset at a federal court, he admitted first hearing would come up in January 28.
Uhumwangho explained that IRT got a banker’s order to freeze the account containing the N100 million, adding that they also recovered the buildings and vehicles belonging to the late suspected kidnapper before filing a motion for the temporarily forfeiture of funds, buildings and properties and cars belonging to the late suspect, in a suite marked
FHC/OW/CS/180/2018, before the Federal High Court Owerri.
Uhumwangho, said that all the vehicles recovered are in police custody while the buildings are yet to be sealed as the police is yet to obtain a court order to that effect. He added that most of the buildings are currently being occupied by tenants and no one is taking rents from them pending an order from the court.
He also added that a relative to Gift, had previously filed fundamental human right suit against the police over recovery of the properties and freezing of the bank accounts and the matter is before High Court of Okigwe on suite number HO/4/2018.
Reacting to allegations leveled against him, Kyari said: “We have nothing to do with a private account carrying names of people from the south east, flaunted by late suspect’s wife, in this BVN era bank accounts can easily be investigated and cash movements and owners can easily be traced for questioning. These are all lies from the wife of Ezenwa whom we refused to negotiate with. The family of Ezenwa was begging to settle with us, but we refused then and then, they vowed to spend money to destroy our names. The Ezenwa’s wife, who jumped bail given to her because of her small baby and is on the run, she is vowing to enjoy the proceeds of Ezenwa’s crime as if there’s no law in this country.”
Kyari, who said his name was linked to unknown accounts carrying names of people from south east, has threatened to sue those that defamed him.
“Moreover, all the exhibits, including houses and vehicles and the N100ma cash we froze in the late kidnap kingpin’s bank account using court order are intact as motion for the forfeiture of the properties and money freeze in the bank account to the federal government are before Owerri High Court,” said Kyari.
He added: “We are not relenting; we are used to this type of baseless accusations coming when uncompromising officers are handling cases of big and billionaire kidnappers like this. Everybody saw the lies from Evans billionaire kidnapper, his lawyers and wife. The moment you refused to negotiate with them, they will sponsor lies against you. Had it been we agreed to negotiate with the family of Ezenwa and collected N50m, 50 percent of what we froze in the kidnapper’s account, nobody would have heard of this case. We have nothing to hide, we want anybody or organization to investigate this matter and see the truth.”
Kidnapped victim: Why I took over collection of rent from Ezenwa’s tenants.
Honourable Tochukwu Okeke is an Enugu State based politician, who was kidnapped by Ezenwa and his gang. He disclosed that he had to sell his landed property in order to pay for his freedom.
According to him, Ezenwa and his men abducted him at Nsukka area of Enugu State, on his way back from Abuja.
He was blindfolded before he was taken into the forest where he was kept for six days before a ransom of $2million was paid as ransom.
He said that while in captivity, he instructed his lawyer to sell off one of his landed properties located in New-layout, an upscale area of Enugu and depleted his domiciliary account. The funds were meant for his children’s school fees, in Canada.
Speaking with our reporter on phone, he admitted that tenants of Ezenwa were actually paying money into two accounts, which emanated from him. He said that he was surprised to read a publication, where it was alleged that Kyari and his men were collecting the rent and diverting same.
Listen to him: “My name is Honorable Tochukwu Okeke, I reside in Enugu State. I work with the government. I am the Senior Special Adviser (SSA) on security to the government. I was kidnapped about two years ago. After I was released, I reported to IRT. I had heard about their achievement with Evans. E-Money and his men took my money, which was part of what I wanted to use to pay my children school fees in Canada. I kept record of the ransom I paid. After that, I checked the phone number, the kidnappers used in collecting ransom from me. IRT started tracking the number. When he was killed, I checked his picture and identified him. He was among those that used to come to see us in the bush where we were held hostage. I had earlier been kidnapped in 2013 in Enugu here. When I was kidnapped this time again, I thought it was the same men. I was scared. I negotiated with them because I wanted them to spare my life. I remembered that it was E-Money, who said that if my family made arrangement with police to rescue me, that he would shoot and kill me.
He said that bullets couldn’t penetrate him. He had charms on his body and arms. He was later killed when he went for another kidnap operation in Owerri. I remembered running to and fro, to IRT office in Lagos and Abuja report the case because the Unit didn’t have office in Enugu State.
“I thought E-Money would be caught alive. I didn’t know he could be shot and killed. I thought bullet couldn’t penetrate him. Even while we were held hostage, he was always making incantations. It was because of my first abduction, in 2013, whereby they kidnapped my wife and I, that I relocated my family. I moved my family to Port-Harcourt, from there I moved them again when politics of 2015 started heating up. I relocated my family to Canada.
“After my abduction by E-Money, I went to IRT and wrote my statement. During investigations, IRT men discovered some of E-Money property in Enugu State.
“About four properties were discovered; one hotel and three other buildings. He was staying in two duplexes; the two duplexes are empty, nobody lives there for now. He bought the hotel after I paid my ransom. Two of his buildings in Enugu are empty. The third building is the only that has tenants.
“I went to the house and discovered that the people had been living there without paying rent. I met one of tenants, who introduced himself as the caretaker; he said that their rent had expired. I told him that the house is a proceed of crime; and that it belonged to a criminal. I also told him that issue of the house was in court. They said they were aware of the case. I told them they have to pay rent to government. Later the man called and told me that other tenants said they had rather pay rent before a lawyer and would also like to collect receipt. Before them, one of the had paid into my account.
“I told them that I would introduce a lawyer, who would be collecting the rent from them on behalf of the government. The lawyer will remit the money when the matter finally comes up in the court. I was hoping that the court will take the money and share to E-Money’s victims after the court trials. My lawyer said the matter was coming up in Owerri that he would go there to give them his own report. The case is already in court in Owerri, but my lawyer wants to follow up the case to know what is happening. The case was filed in Owerri by IRT.
“There was a time IRT came to take snapshots and details of Ezenwa’s property. Police have nothing to do with the rent collection. One of the tenants paid N300,000 into my account. The money is still there, untouched. Others paid into my lawyer’s account. I told all the tenants that the money would be remitted to the court. They needed to pay the government, rather than continue to live in the house for free.
“What he wanted to do is that when the case comes up he will go with the money to the court. It’s only one building that the government is collecting rent from; I don’t know about the others.
“For six months IRT trailed E-money with the phone number which was used for the negotiation. I discovered I wasn’t the only victim that was hunting for him because he was showing up in various location at different times. Luckily, the news came in from Imo State that E-money has been killed by the police in that state and I went to the police and identified his corpse. I am convinced that my money was used to acquire some property. I have an established case that my money was used by E-money to buy a four-story building.
There was no way I would have folded my hands and watch people live in a property bought with my sweat for free when the case has not been decided. I want my money back.”
The last has certainly not have been heard of late corporal Collins Ezenwa aka E-Money, who was alleged to be a billionaire kidnapper and armed robber.
Ezenwa was accused of taking to crime even while as a serving policeman. He was alleged to have been killed after an operation.
The Special Anti-Robbery Squad, Imo State Police Command and Inspector General of Police Special Intelligence Response Team, which had been investigating him, said at least 13 buildings and 10 cars were recovered from him, including a hotel.
The police also found N100 million in one of his accounts. Ezenwa, 31, was a Corporal before he died and was on N47,000 salary. He was said to have quit police after becoming a billionaire.
How Ezenwa made his mind-boggling wealth, has remained a mystery. But police insist that aside from kidnapping and armed robbery, that Ezenwa was involved in sea piracy. It was further alleged that he made his billions within two years.
The Executive Director of International Human Rights Defence, Barrister Justus Ijeoma, representing Gift, the widow of Ezenwa, has accused SARS and IRT operatives of being economical with the truth.
Ijeoma reached out to our reporter after reading the first compendium on Ezenwa last week Saturday. The lawyer insisted that his client’s side of the story was not properly reflected.
He has thus accused SARS and IRT operatives of deliberately killing Ezenwa in order to take over his wealth.
The lawyer alleged that on the day Ezenwa was killed, huge sums of naira and dollars were in his possession.
He said: “Police have not disclosed the money till date.”
The lawyer revealed that a Presidential Panel, taking place in Abuja, has already started hearing the case. He is hopeful that every policeman involved in the alleged extra-judicial killing of Ezenwa and attempt to collect his property would be brought to justice.
Ijeoma explained: “Ezenwa was not a kidnapper. Even if he had been operating as kidnapper for 10 years, he couldn’t have made that amount of money. The money is too much. The family told me that before Ezenwa was killed, he was travelling to Ghana. He had an issue with his brother, so he came to Owerri. The following day, he went to the village to pay his workers and planned to take off from there. He was in his car with two other people. He had at least $300,000 in cash and N5 million in his possession when SARS operatives killed him.”
Ijeoma alleged that the only person that knew about the money in Ezenwa’s possession and that he was travelling to Ghana was his friend, Obinna.
Ijeoma said that Obinna, dying to get his hands on Ezenwa’s money, connived with SARS to attack and kill the billionaire.
He said: “This Obinna used to run errands for Ezenwa. He’s strongly suspected as the master mind of the murder of Ezenwa. SARS operatives initially claimed that Ezenwa was buying AK47 rifles from a vendor and when he sighted them, he attempted to run, so they gunned him down. They said it happened at a community in Imo State. Ezenwa on that fateful day, was in the company of his Personal Assistant (PA) and his PA’s cousin. Police killed the three men just to cover their tracks.
“Obinna, who knows about the huge amount of money with Ezenwa, went to his house to tell his wife to vacate the house. He told her that policemen were coming. He then went and took three of Ezenwa’s choice cars; a Hilux, a corolla and 406. He further went to Ezenwa’s room and went to a save, where he knew the deceased used to keep money. He broke it open. He was expecting dollars, but found only N10. The wife had just heard of her husband’s death; she was still in shock. But Obinna didn’t mind. Obinna went to the house to collect those things the next day after the murder of Ezenwa. It was this same Obinna that broke the news to Ezenwa’s wife.”
Everyone was said to have been shocked, when Obinna, after collecting the cars, insisted that Ezenwa promised him N10 million. He was alleged to have told the grieving family to give him the money. The family members angrily told him, that even if Ezenwa owe him, he should wait until the late corporal was buried.
“It was after he found N10 in the safe that he insisted that he would leave with the cars. The family collected the corolla and Hilux from him, but allowed him to retain the 406,” said Ijeoma.
Ijeoma continued: “It was Obinna that brought Tochukwu Okeke into the picture. Both of them live in the same neighbourhood in Enugu. Tochukwu, who is now claiming to have been kidnapped by Ezenwa. It was Tochukwu that took Obinna to IRT; that was also how IRT came into the picture. The plan was simple; to forcibly take the deceased’s property from his family and share among themselves. That was what they started doing. Immediately IRT came into the picture, they started arresting members of the deceased’s and widow’s families. Obinna took IRT operatives round to arrest Ezenwa’s brothers, tortured and collected all the property from them. He also took them to Ezenwa’s property. We have been talking about 13 cars and buildings, but those are not even all his property. As IRT were harassing and arresting family members, they were also displacing these family members. They went to one of Ezenwa’s property in Enugu State and ordered the tenants to be paying rent to them. Ironically, it was the same Tochukwu, who claimed to have been abducted by Ezenwa that was put in charge of collecting the rent by IRT.”
According to Ijeoma, the President Panel had issued a warrant of arrest for Tochukwu and a lawyer that had also been assisting in perfecting the crime.
It was gathered that the chairman of the Presidential Panel called the lawyer, demanding to know the person that authorized him to be collecting rent from the deceased’s house, and the lawyer responded: “It is the police.”
Ijeoma said: “The lawyer was very arrogant. He told the panel that since it was in Abuja, that if the members needed to ask further questions, they should go and ask the IGP. The Panel told him that they wanted him to appear before the Panel so he said he was not going to appear. The chairman of the Panel issued a summon to Tochukwu. The summon was given to him the following day in Enugu. On Thursday when the matter came up, he was not at the Panel.”
Ijeoma said Tochukwu, who claimed to have been kidnapped and only released after paying $2 million, had earlier documented that it was his two uncles that were kidnapped and that he paid for their release.
“He had forgot the statement he had earlier made at IRT in February last year. His new statement, which made to journalists is now contradicting,” said Ijeoma.
Ijeoma stated: “He claimed to have sold his property, but property can anyone sell in less than six days to be able to raise N700 million? That is the ransom he claimed the kidnappers collected. Now he needs to show us his account detail of how he saved a million dollar.
“That Ezenwa is not alive today to tell what work he did to acquire such wealth. The property he has is over a billion naira. And there’s nobody apart from this Tochukwu of a guy that is claiming Ezenwa kidnapped him. Do you know that IRT operatives chased Ezenwa’s manager away from his hotel in Enugu? They then installed their own manager to be managing the hotel. Their manager had been remitting the profit to them every week. The Panel called the ‘police manager.’ He confirmed he was working for the police.”
Ijeoma said while Ezenwa was a police driver, he was also travelling out to Malaysia. He disclosed that Ezenwa had Nigerian and Ghanaian passports, which he used to travel all the time.
Ijeoma said: “Ezenwa didn’t want to have constant record of travelling in Nigeria because he was still a serving policeman. He might be involved in cybercrime or something, but not kidnapping. SARS claimed that some gang members confessed that Ezenwa was their gang leader. Where are these gang members that made the confessions? Have they also been killed? Ezenwa and the two people with him in his car were killed in cold blood. SARS operatives claimed that Ezenwa was armed, were the two men with him also armed?”
Ijeoma said that because of the manner Ezenwa was killed and the subsequent events that followed, especially police harassment the deceased’s widow had become mentally challenged and currently a patient in a hospital in Enugu.
Ijeoma added: “The Police think they can do anything and just get away with it. Do you what police told the wife when they arrested her? They said that if they had arrested her when she was pregnant, they would have killed her. The police have been trying to kill her since she started speaking out.”
Ijeoma said that SARS of Imo State Police Command and IRT would be sued and made to pay for their alleged crimes.
How billionaire corporal made his wealth – Uncle
As the Ezenwa drama continues to play out, Uche Obi, 37, a Malaysia returnee, has narrated what he knew about the late corporal.
According to him, he was the person that advised Ezenwa to quit his police job in order to travel out.
Obi explained that when he was still a serving policeman, working in Imo State Police Command, Ezenwa used to beg him for home. That was in 2017.
His words: “I met him at a police check point in Mbaise, on my way to my village in Mbano. We became friends. Ezenwa had not car and was always making use of my car. And then all of a sudden, I got a call from his house. When I got there, I discovered that he had dollars everywhere. He said that he got the money from a woman, who came to complain about a case in the police station he was working. He said that he and his team made away with the money found in the woman’s bag. I then advised him to leave the country and travel to Malaysia and stay for two years, and that when he returns, no one would know how he made the money. Before Ezenwa travelled, be buried a huge amount of money in dollars in Owerri. His sister Lillian, was the only person that knew where the money was buried. While Ezenwa was away, Lillian called her siblings and they took some of the money and shared it among themselves.”
Obi explained that Ezenwa’s siblings used the money shared to buy cars and landed property. When Ezenwa heard, he rushed back to Nigeria and collected his property. He also started spending the rest of the money. He bought several buildings and cars in Owerri, and each time the money starts going down, he will take a trip and return with more money.
“I don’t know where he was getting the money from, and whenever he wanted to make calls, he would ask me to leave. I had a quarrel with him before he died; this was because I advised him to control himself, that he was becoming too boastful.”
Obi said that after Ezenwa was killed, IRT took over the investigations. He said that IRT tracked his phone and later arrested him. They thought he was one of Ezenwa’s gang members.
Obi said: “I told them that I was just a friend, but our relation went sour because I was always advising him. I told them that, as friends Ezenwa, didn’t allow me come close to him to know the source of his income. Whenever he wanted to have any serious business discussion, he would ask me to leave. I told them that the two guys who were killed alongside Ezenwa were known to me. I didn’t know what they were all doing. I informed the IRT that I wasn’t surprised when the Imo State Police Command identified them as kidnappers because Ezenwa’s movements were highly suspicions. When IRT arrested and questioned me, I told them all I knew about Ezenwa including the first building which I went and bought with him.
“Since I did that, his family had been against me. I have been receiving threat calls from phone numbers I don’t know. The callers are telling that they are angry because I showed the police the location of Ezenwa’s building in Owerri. I had no option than to do what I did.”
Obi explained that Ezenwa’s sister, Lillian, was the only person who knew where the money was kept.
“I just returned from Malaysia and I have some issues with my family. My wife took everything I had, which why I’m in Nigeria for now. I met Ezenwa after I returned to Nigeria from Mayalsia. I wanted to invest the money I made and I came with my family, who were living with me. The business I came for, didn’t work out. Things didn’t work out the way I wanted. My wife sold my SUV and my other property. She made away with it to Cambodia. I met Ezenwa when I was driving to my village. He was a policeman at a check point. He stopped me; he asked me to give him some money, but I told him that I didn’t have any money with me. We exchanged numbers and became friends.
“Later that year, my wife made away with my property and I became helpless. One day, Ezenwa called me to come to his house; when I got there, I saw dollars. His brothers were also carrying dollars.
“I asked him how he got the money, he said he and his team arrested a woman that had a box full of dollars. He and his team shared the money. He told me that the one I saw was his share. He spent three weeks in Malaysia and returned to be spending money in Owerri. We started sleeping in hotels. I was always going with him to buy some of property. He didn’t know how to calculate money in dollars. I was always there with him whenever he was buying his property.
“Sometimes when we are in the hotel, he would leave without telling anyone where he was going. He would chase me away and then return in the morning. He does that whenever the money he had with him had gone down.
“Whenever we are in a hotel, he would threaten the owners that he wanted to buy the hotel. Before then, he showed his sister where he hid his money. Whenever he wanted to make calls, he wouldn’t allow me to be there.
“One of his brothers, who was a vulcanizer, bought several landed property and a building. He has two wives, but none of them live with him. I was the person that followed him to buy the hotel in Enugu for N220 million. He does not always allow me to stay wherever he makes his calls and usually changes his SIM cards. He was about to open a Bureau De Change firm when he asked me not come to close to him anyway.
“Before he was killed, he called me and after he died, I switched off my phone because I thought the police would be looking for me. I called my pastor and he prayed for me; he told me that nothing would happen to me since my hands were clean.”