Three suspected sea pirates have been arrested in Bayelsa and Rivers states in connection with the kidnapping of four expatriates from the United States of America.
The suspects – Tony Ebiyepade, General Karinatei Timidiseghe and Godbless Oruboro – were reportedly tracked down through leaked telephone conversations.
They allegedly specialised in kidnapping expatriates and collecting huge sums for their release.
City Round learnt that detectives from the Inspector-General of Police Intelligence Response Team began tracking the syndicate in August 2020, which consequently led to the arrest of a member.
It was gathered that two other suspects were later apprehended by the operatives recently.
Ebiyepade, who lived on Ebi-Sam Road, Agudama in Bayelsa, stated that he participated in several kidnappings but was not involved in the abduction of the Americans.
He said in two of the operations he partook in, his gang collected N145m ransoms out of which he got N11.7m share.
He stated, “I am married to two wives with four children. I was a fisherman from my childhood. I was arrested by the police in Yenagoa in August 2020. At first, I did not know why I was arrested but when I got to the station, I was told that I was involved in kidnapping and sea piracy.
“I started sea piracy and kidnapping since the time of militancy. My mother and two sisters were raped by militants and I joined them to retaliate what they did to my family. I was introduced to kidnapping and sea piracy by one Japas in 2007.
“My gang members are Ebimor, Kemen, Good, Tari, Boma, Ijabra and some other boys from Delta State. We have eight AK-47 rifles loaded with two magazines each. My first operation was in 2007 where we kidnapped 10 foreigners, seized their ship and drove them to Ebono River in Calabar (Cross River State).
“We kept them in the creeks for a week till N100m ransom was paid. The next operation was on the Lagos axis. We took some expatriates and abandoned their vessel. We took them to a creek in Bayelsa. We negotiated with the owner of the vessel until they paid N45m. My share in the first kidnapping was N8m while I got N3.7m in the second one.”
He said they also kidnapped some sailors and got N35m ransom, adding that he learnt about the kidnapping of the Americans at a bar in his community from one Joe.
He added, “I used the money I made from kidnapping to build several houses in Bayelsa. I also used it to buy a motor saw for my timber business.”
Timidiseghe, 35, who also denied his involvement in the kidnapping of the Americans, confessed that he specialised in drugs and made a fortune from them.
He said, “I got married in 2004 after I left secondary school and started selling drugs. I joined the Greenlander Confraternity and rose to the number one in the whole of Bayelsa State. I am well known as General Karinatei. I also surrendered 15 locally-made guns during the third face of the Federal Government Amnesty Programme.
“I sell cocaine to cultists, sea pirates and kidnappers operating within Southern Ijaw because I have six children I need to care for. It was my friend known as Ajhil who introduced me to selling cocaine and I was buying it from Lagos State. The person selling the drugs sent it to me through commercial buses. I was arrested because I communicated with Tony (Ebiyepade) whom the police said is a kidnapper and sea pirate but I don’t have any business with him.”
He said Ebiyepade called him to help secure the release of a construction engineer kidnapped by some cultists while working on his (Ebiyepade’s) site in Bayelsa.
Oruboro, father of two, stated that he got amnesty in 2009 and stipends from the Federal Government but was lured into illegal bunkering, sea piracy and kidnapping by one Akuro.
He added, “I bought illegally refined products from Akuro who specialised in kidnapping expatriates and hijacking oil tanker vessels. In most of my visits to his camp, I saw some of the kidnapped expatriates in his camp located on Bile Island in Rivers State. I have been working with Akuro in the last four months and I joined in four kidnappings.
“We kidnapped some white men and collected huge sums of money as ransom. In one operation, we collected N70m as ransom. We collected N40m from another set of expatriates we kidnapped. I don’t know how much was paid on the last kidnapping I carried out with my gang before I was arrested. I was taking my wife and children out of Port Harcourt to Enugu State when I was arrested at the park.”