MORE than meet the eyes: When Delta kidnap kingpin, Kelvin Oniarah, who was wanted then by both the police and army, stormed his country home, Kokori in Ethiope East Local Government Area on Tuesday, September 17, to issue his 60-day ultimatum to government, it is obvious that what transpired was a serious security breach.
Many people suspected that such impunity could not have occurred without the collusion of security operatives on ground, particularly as Kelvin’s new group, Movement for the Liberation of Urhobo People, LIMUP, allegedly fired up to 50 gun shots intermittently into the air.
Delta State Commissioner of Police, Mr. Ikechukwu Aduba, who doubted the bravado after he was told by the Divisional Police Officer, DPO, in the area, said that nothing like that happened, now knows better. It was gathered on good authority that the DPO had been redeployed after the state Command discovered that he misled his boss. Unmistakably, there is more than meet the eyes in the affair as detachment of soldiers and policemen were said to be on ground in the area.
Kelvin Oniarah and his gang, the Movement for the Liberation of Urhobo People, LIMUP
Getting more thorny: However, the matter is getting more complicated with reports that Kelvin had an unwritten agreement with security operatives and was devotedly keeping to his side of the bargain, only for government officials to betray him. What is even more confusing is the information that the Department of State Services, DSS, was holding a wrong person. A source said before his arrest, Kelvin had problem with his boys and his camp was in turmoil because of his decision to stop kidnapping and work with government.
Kokori women who protested against the siege to the community by soldiers, during the week, also said they were aware that Kelvin had turned a new leaf to work with government. They reportedly asked why he should be betrayed by those he was working for.
A source said, “I am aware that Kelvin had an unrecorded agreement with the security agencies. I do not know exactly which of them for him to co-operate with them and he would be granted amnesty.
The people in Kokori know he was working towards amnesty, but it was as if some persons wanted to renege on the agreement and he decided to do something desperately.” But a senior military officer dismissed the existence of such an unrecorded deal when mentioned, saying, “I can tell you, there is no truth in it.”
Sour deal! According to our source, “Kelvin had an understood arrangement that he would be granted official pardon and was working with some security agents to actualize it, but at a stage, he felt that some persons were trying to sabotage it after he had split with his boys. I think he misread the situation, instead of still remaining in hiding for things to work out, he behaved immaturely and on September 17, issued a 60-day ultimatum to government to grant him amnesty, instead of just pleading for amnesty.
“He was acting with the belief that he already had a deal to be granted amnesty and the matter was extending for a longer period than he expected and the way to quicken the process was for him to do what he did on September 17, as I said earlier, that was where he misfired.”
Police opted out: Hint of Kelvin asking for amnesty was first dropped by the Delta State Commissioner of Police, Mr. Ikechukwu Aduba, who revealed that the linchpin, on the run at the time, phoned him sometime between February and March, this year, begging for official pardon. The negotiation with the police probably did not fly as Mr. Aduba said he back-tracked when Kelvin led an operation that saw the killing of three prison warders in Warri, few days after he spoke with him.
Pact with other security agencies: Our source insisted, however, that the negotiation for amnesty continued with other security agencies and an understanding was reached that Kelvin should hand off kidnapping and help security agents to “destroy” the industry in the state. Protesting Kokori women alluded to the deal, last weekend. They said Kelvin was indeed working with soldiers and gave the name of one of the kidnap victims he helped to rescue, some months back.
They said Kelvin rescued Mr. Emmanuel Ighomena, who was reportedly abducted by some kidnappers and handed him over to soldiers before he (Kelvin) issued the 60- day ultimatum to the government. Investigations showed there was lack of synergy among the security agencies in the state on some high profile cases due to allegation that one of the agencies, more often than not, compromised with criminals. Most times, they do not share vital information and do not co-operate when it matters most. The no-love lost was evident during the manhunt, last year, for the kidnappers of Prof. Kanene Okonjo, mother of the Coordinating Minister of the Economy, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala
Split in Kelvin’s camp: It was gathered that Kelvin’s supposed resolution to accept amnesty did not go well with some top members of his group, who decided to continue with the “business” even if he was quitting. As a result, his camp split. According to the source, “somebody was kidnapped in Abraka area after Kelvin entered into the unwritten pact and information filtered in that he was behind it, but he denied, vowing to expose the culprits. ”Kelvin, purportedly, traced the gang to a breakaway faction in his community and seized the ring leader, who he tied to an electric pole in a primary school in the community, insisting that he would not be released until his group freed the person security agents accused him of taking hostage. The person was only untied after his gang freed the victim and Kelvin handed him over to security agents.
Cock and bull story: A senior military officer, who was contacted on the incident said, “This is a cock and bull story, Kelvin was a wanted criminal and he remained so until he was arrested, nobody entered into any unspoken arrangement with him, it is all lies.”
Confusion over seized Delta kidnap kingpin: While eyebrows are still raised over what really transpired between Kelvin and security agents in DeltaState, there is misapprehension over his celebrated arrest, September 25, by a combined security of the Department of State Service, DSS and Nigerian Army in Port Harcourt, RiversState.
Parade of linchpin
Spokesperson for DSS, Marilyn Ogar, had in a statement in Abuja, stated, “On September 25, 2013, a combined security team of the Nigerian Army and DSS operatives arrested Kelvin Prosper Oniarah, a notorious terrorist, kidnap kingpin and armed robber, who has been on the wanted list of security agencies.” More than two weeks after the said arrest, the DSS, as typical of it, had not paraded the linchpin, also known as Kelvin Ibruvwe. The failure to parade the kingpin has raised suspicion as to whether Kelvin was the person arrested, but a top government official told Vanguard in Abuja, “There is no doubt that the person arrested is Kelvin Oniarah.
“What you are hearing is rumour, I have also heard it. I may not know why the DSS has not paraded him as you asked, and which many persons have also expressed concern about, but I think the DSS might still be carrying out some investigations, which could be why he has not been paraded yet.”
Dissenting voice: A security source, however, told Vanguard, “Kelvin is not the one that was arrested. They arrested some of his boys and thought he was the one. If he is the one that was arrested, let the DSS parade him for the world to see. They said Kelvin has been arrested, that is what they said, let them bring him out for people to see and know if it is him.” Soldiers deployed to Kokori few days after Kelvin, who declared himself a militant leader, September 17.