By Kingsley Omonobi & Evelyn Usman
Dreaded Port Harcourt kidnap kingpin and pirate, Prosper David, popularly known as Militant General, has died from injuries sustained during a gun battle with operatives of the Inspector-General of Police Intelligence Response Team, IRT, in his hideout in Bayelsa State.
David, as gathered, was a former militant who initially embraced the Federal Government’s amnesty programme, but later formed a kidnapping gang.
He was also alleged to have commandeered a water way in Port Harcourt, where he collected between N1.5 million and N2 million from vessels passing through Nember creeks to the high seas.
The deceased and members of his gang, all indigenes of Southern Ijaw, Bayelsa State, as gathered, usually carried out their kidnap escapades in Port Harcourt, Rivers State.
Among their victims was a dealer in fabrics, Mrs Tina Bob-Manuel, on November 22, 2017. The deceased and members of his gang as gathered, stormed Mrs Bob-Manuel’s shop located at 107 Nvuigwe Road, Woji, Port Harcourt at about 10.45a.m. in Police uniforms.
They took her in their ash-coloured Honda Pilot car, then a waiting speed boat and into the creeks, from where they demanded N50 million ransom for her release.
Her family made an initial payment of N2 million and $1,000 on December 1, 2017. Yet her captors refused to release her. Another N4 million was reportedly paid on December 14, 2017, totally N6.361 million. Yet, the gang demanded for more.
“Mrs Bob-Manuel was later dumped somewhere around Obua Local Government Area of Rivers State on February 21, after spending three months with her captors.
Police sources hinted that “IRT operatives have been on his trail for a long time after the kidnap of Mrs Bob-Manuel and several other kidnappings.
“The suspect went underground after collecting the ransom in two installments and when he sensed that the Police were closing in on him, he dropped his contact number known to his personal driver that was earlier arrested by the Police and relocated his family from Victory Estate Azikoro, Yenagoa, in December 2017, to the creek.”
The source continued: “After about 90 days of painstaking intelligence gathering with technical support from TIU, the suspect was tracked to Asiri area of Yenagoa, Bayelsa State, to his new rented apartment.
“On sighting the operatives, he ran into his apartment ceiling from where he engaged the operatives. But he was neutralised and fatally injured.”
Three other suspects— Johnson Denis, his driver; Benjamin Johnson and Anthony Joshua— according to Police sources, were also arrested.
Recovered from them were one AK-47 rifle, which late David was alleged to have engaged the ITR operatives with, one magazine, 26 rounds of live ammunition, four expended ammunition and a phone belonging to Mrs Bob-Manuel.
The suspects, sources hinted, were arrested between February 22 and March 14, adding that Police were still on the trail of other suspected members of the gang.
I didn’t know my boss was a kidnapper—Driver
The late kidnap lord’s driver, Johnson Dennis, denied having knowledge of his late boss’ business.
He stated rather that he usually brought his boss from Bayelsa to Port Harcourt, after which he will return to Bayelsa with the vehicle, a Highlander SUV.