Former police corporal Collins Ezenwa 31, father of one, became a billionaire after embracing crime while still on active duty as a cop in Imo State.
Ezenwa was a vulcaniser, but sometime in 2009, he decided to enlist in the Nigeria Police. He had a charming personality and wormed his way into the heart of a senior police officer, Taiwo Lakanu, who is now an Assistant-Inspector General of Police (AIG). Lakanu made him his personal driver.
Nobody knows precisely when Ezenwa took to crime, but it was clear he lived a double life. Like most policemen on his rank, he was on a N47, 000 monthly salary.
He, however, lived a life of opulence. What everyone knows for a fact today, is that Ezenwa became stupendously rich. Before then he dated an undergraduate identified as Gift, who he finally walked down the aisle with. He was so rich that he had to quit his N47, 000 police job. He bought at least 13 buildings in different states, bought a hotel and had 10 choice cars in his possession, two tippers and trucks. When some of his houses were searched, police recovered three AK47 rifles.
It was further alleged that he buried dollars in a pit, which some of his family members had allegedly disappeared with. In a particular street in Enugu State, he was alleged to have bought two buildings and used to move from one to the other to sleep. He opened a fixed deposit account, using his wife as one of the signatories. The money in the account was N100m and the account officer is his wife’s brother.
Detectives have since discovered that before Ezenwa married his wife, she had less than N20, 000 in her bank account. Ezenwa resigned from the police as a corporal on N47, 000 monthly salary in November 2017, and travelled to Malaysia for only a month. He returned from Malaysia to start spending money like King Croesus, buying buildings, cars and businesses.
A brief glance at his timeline showed that he joined police in 2009, started making billions in 2017 and was killed on January 27, 2018. He was estimated to be worth billions and has multi-billion naira properties scattered all over eastern states. With his wealth came a nick name, E-Money. It is strongly suspected that Ezenwa had been hobnobbing with criminals even while working as a policeman, who was supposed to fight against crimes and criminals. IRT uncovered during it investigations that Ezenwa, a mere Corporal, working with the Imo State Police Command, had links with robbery gangs, who specialised in hijacking oil vessels on the high seas and selling off its products to waiting buyers.
“Ezenwa bought several choice properties including hotels and exotic cars in Imo, Abia and Enugu States, within the space of two years. One of his friends Onyekere, advised him to quit his police job and travel out of the country as people may start suspecting that he could have made his money through crime.
E-money left his police job, travelled out of the country for weeks and when he returned he bought a hotel in Enugu and made a deposit of N100m to a fix deposit account which his wife was also a signatory to,” said a police source. IRT commenced investigations into the activities of Ezenwa in October 2017 when Emmanuel and David Ofong, were kidnapped along the Nsukka Kogi Road, Enugu, by a gang of kidnappers and a ransom of $2million was demanded and paid for the release of one of the victims, David Ofong.
The kidnappers held on to Emmanuel Ofong and demanded additional money. IRT went into the case and through the aid of advanced technology was able to establish that Ezenwa was the man behind the kidnapping. The police source said: “We had difficult arresting him because he was always moving in and out of the country, and he moved with various vehicle numbers. Shockingly, we heard, in 2018, that he had been killed alongside two members of his gang. But since Chief Emmanuel Ofong, who he kidnapped was still missing, we continued our case with the hope of arresting other members of his gangs.”
He continued: “In the process, we arrested a banker working for him and he informed us that his wife had a fixed deposit account credited with N100m and we also arrested a property agent who assisted him in buying his properties. We learned that all the vehicles bought by Ezenwa were hidden by relatives and we went after them and succeeded in recovering some of them.” Ezenwa’s downfall started after a gang of kidnappers were arrested by operatives of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) Imo State Police Command. The SARS men ordered the suspects to leave their phone lines open. They had many calls; one of their callers was Ezenwa.
The corporal, unaware he was speaking on an open line, allegedly said too many implicating things, while being egged by his partners in crime, who were already down. The SARS men began a meticulous and painstaking plan on how to catch Ezenwa and smash his gang. While SARS operatives in Imo State were hunting for a robbery gang, IRT men were looking for the kidnappers that abducted a politician and then Chief Emmanuel Ofong. A Police source said: “Four of his buildings, including a hotel, were recovered in Enugu State. Seven were traced to Owerri and Okigwe areas of Imo State, while one was traced to Aba, Abia State. Seven cars, two SUVs, one Hilux truck, a commercial bus, two tipper-lorries and a trailer truck were equally recovered at different locations within the South-East. All the seized properties are currently registered as exhibit in custody of the police and a motion to have them forfeited has been filed in Owerri High court.”
Controversy has, however, continued to trail the death of Ezenwa, with human rights activists insisting that he was killed by the police while driving in his car with his two cousins. The rights activists however agreed that Ezenwa’s wealth was inexplicable and mind-boggling. A hotel linked to Ezenwa in Enugu was estimated to be worth N220, 000,000. He also had two duplexes and eight blocks of flats worth a combined N180m. One of the victims abducted by Ezenwa’s gang is honourable Tochukwu Okeke, living in Enugu State. He was released after paying ransom. That would be the second Okeke had been kidnapped for ransom.
The first time, he was kidnapped along with his wife. Okeke said that both experiences were quite traumatising. After he was released, he went to lodge a complaint with the Inspector General of Police Special Intelligence Response Team (IRT), led by a Deputy Commissioner of Police, Abba Kyari. The Unit started investigation.
The IRT operatives were still trying to track and nail the kidnappers of Okeke, when Ezenwa was shot and killed. The gory pictures of his corpse were sighted by many people on the Internet. One of those that saw the picture was Okeke. He identified the corpse to IRT operatives. Thus, SARS, Imo State Command, had to handover the investigation to IRT Unit to synergise and conclude its ongoing kidnap investigation.
The investigation is still being handled by IRT, Lagos branch, headed by a Chief Superintendent of Police (CSP), Philip Rieninwa. The investigation is led by Rieninwa. Although Kyari is the head of IRT Unit nationwide, his office is in Abuja. He can only be contacted on major decisions and if his expertise and strategy is needed to crack a case that was beginning to prove difficult. It was in the course of the investigation that the operatives found out that Ezenwa was obscenely rich.
They also discovered that he had fleet of cars, houses, hotel and money. His wife was invited and quizzed. IRT froze accounts belonging to Ezenwa, making it impossible for Gift to make withdrawals. Gift, incidentally is a nursing mother; life became too tough for her. The case took another twist after Gift went to human rights activists, including Amnesty International to alleged that IRT operatives were attempting to take over her late husband’s businesses and properties. She also claimed that Rieninwa and other Lagos detectives were withdrawing money from her husband’s account into their private pockets and collecting rent on her husband’s building in Enugu State.
Culled from New Telegraph