Afeez Hanafi

A 22-year-old herder, Ibrahim Umaru, has been rearrested by the police after he allegedly escaped from prison custody where he was serving a five-year jail term for unlawful possession of firearms.

Umaru, who reportedly joined a robbery gang after his escape, was apprehended recently in Asaba, Delta State by operatives of the Inspector-General of Police Intelligence Response Team.

Saturday PUNCH learnt that Umaru was caught with an AK-47 by a police patrol team sometime in 2014 when he led his cows to graze on a bush along Ogwashi-Uku Road, Delta.

He was said to have been charged to court with illegal possession of firearm – an offence to which he allegedly pleaded guilty.

It was gathered that the father of two was sentenced to five years’ imprisonment and was kept at the Ogwashi-Uku Prison.

Our correspondent learnt that in 2018, warders led Umaru and some prisoners to clean the prison surroundings when he escaped.

He reportedly joined a robbery gang some months later and participated in an attack on a filling station in Asaba.

Following a report to the police about the attack, IRT operatives launched a manhunt for the gang.

A police source said Umaru, after escaping from the prison, fled to Sokoto and later relocated to Kwara State.

The source said Umaru thereafter moved to Zamfara State, where he allegedly took part in several armed robberies, cattle rustling and kidnapping.

The source said, “Umaru was first arrested in 2014 when policemen on patrol accosted him as he was leading his cows to graze along Ogwashi-Uku Road. They searched and found a gun on him. He was charged with illegal possession of firearm and was taken to court. He pleaded guilty and was sentenced to five years in prison. He escaped from the prison last year and later joined some bandits and cattle rustlers in Zamfara.

“He later returned to Asaba, Delta State with an AK-47 which he used in terrorising residents and business owners. Operatives acted on a tip-off and trailed him to a forest where he was arrested and the gun was recovered from him.”

The suspect, who hails from Sokoto State, in his statement to detectives, explained that he was recruited by one Buhari Daji to become a cattle rustler in Zamfara, noting that he relocated to Delta after the kingpin was killed.

He said, “My father taught me how to rear cows. There were 33 cows in my care. In 2014, some policemen stopped me around Ogwashi-Uku and searched me and my cows. They found a locally-made gun on one of the cows. I was taken to a police station and charged to court where I pleaded guilty. I was sentenced to five years.

“One day, I was taken out of the prison to clear grass within and outside prison premises and managed to escape. I had N200 on me and I hailed a cab that took me down to Mariam Babaginda Road, Asaba. From there, I approached a truck driver and I explained my plight to him.”

He said the driver took him to his hometown in Sokoto where he spent five months before he left for Kwara State, where a friend linked him up with Daji in Zamfara.

Umaru added that when he got home, he met his mother very sick while his father was dead.

“I went to join Daji’s gang in Zamfara and he gave me a gun. I worked once for him, then I brought the gun to Asaba and I linked up with one of my friends known as Baba. He suggested that we should rob a filling station along Ibuzo Road. We went there at night. I was on my way to Baba’s house one month after the operation when policemen arrested me with the gun,” the suspect added.

Copyright PUNCH.