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 serving as a policeman. He was alleged to have been killed after an operation. The Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), Imo State Police Command and Inspector General of Police Special Intelligence Response Team (IRT), who had been investigating him, said that at least 13 buildings and 10 cars were recovered from him, including a hotel. The police also found N100m 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, 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 however accused SARS and IRT operatives of being economical with the truth. Ijeoma reached out to our reporter after reading the first instalment of the story on Ezenwa last 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 panel, set up 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 properties 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 dollars in cash and N5m 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, seeking to get his hands on Ezenwa’s money, connived with SARS to attack and kill the billionaire. He said: “Obinna used to run errands for Ezenwa.
He’s strongly suspected as the mastermind behind 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 cabinet, 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 N10m. He was alleged to have told the grieving family to give him the money.
The family members angrily told him, that even if Ezenwa owed 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. Obin-na took IRT operatives round to arrest Ezenwa’s brothers, tortured and collected all the properties from them.
We have been talking about 13 cars and buildings, but those are not even all his properties. As IRT were harassing and arresting family members, they were also displacing these family members. They went to one of Ezenwa’s properties 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 working with him.
It was gathered that the chairman of the Presidential Panel called the lawyer, demanding to know the person that authorised 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 it but he said he was not going to appear. The chairman of the Panel issued a summons to Tochukwu. The summons was given to him the following day in Enugu.
On Thursday when the matter came up, he was not at the Panel.” Ijeoma said that Tochukwu, who claimed to have been kidnapped and only released after paying 2million dollars, had earlier documented that it was his two uncles that were kidnapped and that he paid 2million dollars for their release.
“He had forgotten the statement he had earlier made at IRT in February last year. His new statement, which he made to journalists, is contradicting,” said Ijeoma. “He claimed to have sold his property, but what property can anyone sell in less than six days to be able to raise N700m? 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.
“But 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 that 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 have beeen 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 know 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’
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 of the country. Obi explained that Ezenwa used to beg him for money. 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 no 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 where 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 to buy cars and landed properties. When Ezenwa heard, he rushed back to Nigeria and collected the properties. He also started spending the rest of the money. He bought several buildings and cars in Owerri, and each time the money started dwindling, he would 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 relationship 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 wealth. 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 with him to buy.
“Since I did that, his family had been against me. I have been receiving threatening 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 had some issues with my family. My wife took everything I had, which is 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 properties. She made away with everything to Cambodia. I met Ezenwa when I was driving to my village.
He was a policeman at a checkpoint. 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 properties 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 money 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 the properties.
He didn’t know how to calculate money in dollars. I was always there with him whenever he was buying his properties. “Sometimes when we were 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 did that whenever the money he had with him had gone down. “Whenever we were 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 properties. 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 N220m.
He did not always allow me to stay wherever he made his calls and usually changed his SIM cards. He was about to open a Bureau De Change firm when he asked me not come to close to him anymore. “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.”