ANGELA NKWO-AKPOLU, in Owerri, Paints A Portrait Of Henry Chibueze (Alias Vampire), The Blood-Thirsty Kidnapper And Armed Robber, Who Was Gunned Down By The Police a Few Days Ago.
Not a few residents of Imo state and other neighbouring states of Abia and Rivers were agreed that Henry Chibueze, (alias Vampire) , notorious kidnapper and armed robber, possessed magical powers.
In their estimation, he disappeared if his life was threatened, and reappeared as soon as the threat was over. But in the end, circumstances and events proved that Vampire was a mere mortal, who was meant to die one day.
Vampire was born into the polygamous family of Mr. John Chibueze, of Umuokpo village in Abajah, Nwangele Local Government Area of Imo state. John and his wife, Beatrice, were poverty-stricken, so they couldn’t send Vampire to school.
In 2000, Vampire took to kidnapping because according to him, “my parents did not send me to school.” He later became the most dreaded armed robber in the South-East and South-South geo-political zones, as well as leader of a notorious criminal gang.
On March 2, 2017 – the day he was shot dead by the police – in Omu-Awa community forest in Ikwerre Local Government Area of Rivers state - Henry (Vampire) had killed over 200 innocent men and women, including his girl friend, simply called Sandra.
“Yes I shot my girlfriend and everybody in their house because she stole my N45million which I kept in my house. I went to her family house in Lagos and when she saw me coming, she ran inside the house. I went in and shot her and everybody in the room. She died instantly, but I don’t know how others died”, Henry confessed after he was arrested by the police following the incident.
Most security operatives who came across Vampire during his life time, described him as a “moving target, very elusive, slippery, devilish, and blood-thirsty.”
They said he was not an ordinary human being. It was alleged that he got his magical powers from a native doctor called Iweajuo Gad. Gad told newsmen that Henry forgot to invoke his magical powers during his excruciating gun battle with the police, hence he was gunned down.
For many years, men of the Nigeria Police and operatives of the Department of State Security Services (DSS), sought after him yet the more they tried, the more he appeared elusive.
He was not given to too many words, but undoubtedly his actions spoke louder than his words. He was considered a criminal without conscience. He even confessed two years ago thus: “I have killed many people, and I am still rearing to go. My blood still dey hot.”
Indeed, Henry, the infamous armed robber and kidnapper, had no respect for the sanctity of human life. He allegedly killed most of the people he kidnapped despite collecting ransom from relations of his victims.
Before his death, Vampire confessed to killing: Placid Ejimadu ( alias Nze Ji Obi); Jonathan Ibemere (aka Gwuogwuo) and Livinus Iwumune, all natives of Abajah in Nwangele Local Government Area of Imo State.
He also confessed to the killing of a member of the Imo State House of Assembly at Orji in 2015; the kidnap/murder of a traditional ruler’s wife from Mbaise, Imo state, whose corpse had not been seen till date.
He further confessed to the kidnap/murder of a Malaysian, who had gone to the First Bank branch at World Bank Housing Estate, Owerri, to transact business. He also confessed to the killing of three members of a family, including a woman from Nkwerre in 2012 after collecting ransom from the family.
A policeman who pleaded anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media on the issue said: “that guy knew a lot about crime and dodging. Once he got close to a wall, it was almost impossible to get him. He had a unique style of hugging the wall such that if you aimed at him, you could barely see him because he simply gummed himself on the wall, making it almost impossible to hit him.”
Nothing gave his parents any inclination of the level of havoc he could wreak in the society. Even his wife did not know he was the dreaded Vampire.
“My wife still thinks I buy and sell fabrics from Ghana which I was doing when I met her,” said Henry.
While he was on a wanted list for years, he maintained a pseudo identity to family members who presumed he was a successful clothes trader because he seemed faceless to security operatives.
Henry operated with a certain air of mysticism; almost everybody believed he was heavily laced with charms and had ability to disappear from a crime scene, the reason some police operatives once gave for their inability to arrest him.
He was first arrested in 2015 by operatives of the Department of State Security Services (DSS) after he and members of his gang tried unsuccessfully to kidnap Election Petitions Tribunal Judges for Imo State sitting at Disney Hotel, Owerri.
“We traced him to Disney hotel, Owerri where he and members of his gang had gone to kidnap the Tribunal Judges who lodged there. When our men stormed the place, he escaped with gunshot wounds to the home of his native doctor in Ohafia, Abia state, where he was eventually arrested in a pre-dawn raid,” said Mr. Francis Ejiofor, Imo State director of DSS.
And following his arrest, most residents of the state, breathed a sigh of relief, albeit momentarily. But while the security operatives went on holidays as it were, Vampire waxed stronger inside the Owerri Prison, from where he coordinated kidnap and robbery operations from his prison cell,
On Friday, January 27, 2017, Vampire struck in his signature style, loud and deadly. His gang invaded the premises of the Owerri High Court where he was standing trial for allegedly committing various offences and took him away.
The Prisons Public Relations Officer, DSP James Madugbam said that 57 prison inmates who were brought to the court that day escaped following the commotion that ensued when the criminal gang shot their way into the court premises. .
Obinna Ela, a member of Vampire’s gang, confessed that the squad unleashed mayhem on the public after freeing its leader (Vampire) on Friday, January 27, 2017.
According to him, the gang conducted four successful kidnap operations in Imo, Abia and Rivers States. He said a serving police officer whose name was not disclosed, served as driver during the operations.
It was gathered that before Vampire met his waterloo, he and his gang had perfected plans to attack Imo State Governor Rochas Okorocha, for placing a N5million ransom on his arrest.
But unknown to him (Vampire), the police had perfected plans to strike a deadly blow on him. A crack police team led by Abba Kyari, an assistant police commissioner, trailed him for about a month, and finally bounced on him in his hideout located in Rivers state.
“The Inspector General of Police Special Force engaged Vampire and his gang members in a gun duel in Omu-Awa community forest in Ikwerre Council area of Rivers State, and gunned him down at about 1am that Thursday morning,” said the Imo state Police Commissioner, Taiwo Lakanu.
A policeman said Vampire never slept, adding that “the few times he did, it was always in the open - never inside walled rooms. His sight and sense of hearing were impeccable - he could track a ringing phone poles away; a skill that preserved him for that length of time.”
He continued: “What baffled me and my colleagues was Vampire’s thoroughness; his animalistic instincts could not be faulted and the earlier he was nabbed, the better and safer for the nation.”
It didn’t take long before the police shot and killed Vampire during an excruciating gun duel inside a forest in Ikwerre Local Government Area of Rivers state – March 2, 2017.
And with Vampire lifeless, the police paraded his corpse through several major streets in Owerri, the Imo state capital.
The essence was to calm the nerves of anxious residents of Owerri, the state capital, and those living in other towns and villages of the state, some of whom had reportedly made plans to leave the state for fear of being killed by Vampire and his blood thirsty gang.
Five other members of Vampire’s gang were arrested following the killing of their leader. They were identified as Obinna Elah (26) Arinze Abecheta (24) Chukwuebuka Ikeazota (23), Samuel Ugochukwu (24 ), and Clifford Aheana, whose age was not given by the police.
“I can now go to sleep with both eyes closed. Indeed, I feel a sense of relief now that Vampire is dead,” said Okwudili Ikenna, a cab driver in Owerri. Johnson Umunna, who sells second hand clothes in the city, shares the same view with Ikenna.
Several police men fired gun shots at the headquarters of Imo State Police Command to celebrate the killing by their men of the elusive and dangerous armed robbery kingpin.
For now, residents of Imo state, and the neighbouring states of Abia and Rivers, are grateful to the Nigeria Police for saving them from the ferocious hands of Vampire and his murderous gang. Will another Vampire emerge in Imo or any other state of the South-East and South-South? Only time will tell.