On Thursday, Henry Chibueze better known as ‘Vampire’ met his waterloo in a forest at Omu Awa in Ikwerre local government area of Rivers state. According to Jimoh Moshood, spokesman of the Nigeria police force, Chibueze was gunned down during a battle with security operatives.
His death will be seen as a relief to his victims and many who could have fallen into his trap.
While his reign lasted, Vampire tormented people in south-east and south-south states, and even neighbouring countries like Benin Repubic, Niger and Ivory Coast.
So sophisticated was his gang that they defied all measures put in place by security agents. Known to be lion-hearted, Chibueze moved freely in the streets with arms, searching for those in his black book.
KILLING SPREE AT LAGOS RESIDENCE OF GIRLFRIEND
On February 16, 2013, Vampire stormed the Igando, Lagos home of Sandra Ijedinma, his girlfriend and wreaked havoc. By the time he was done, Ijedinma, Praise Ozor, her elder sister, and her two children had been sent to the great beyond.
But as typical of the being he was named after – a vampire is a being from a folklore who feeds on the blood of other living beings – Chibueze proceeded to a nearby street where one of the elder sisters to Sandra resided, and killed the woman and three of her children.
The community could not recover from the shock, as the news went round for days. But not done, the killer threatened to eliminate the remaining members of the family he could trace.
He later took responsibility for the crime, blaming it on theft by his estrange lover.
“Yes, I killed my girlfriend and her parents because she stole N45 million from my house. I went to her family house in Lagos and when she saw me coming she ran into the house. I went in and shot her and other people in the house. She died instantly but I don’t know how others died,” he had confessed.
ESCAPED A TRAP SET BY DSS OPERATIVES
In one of his operations, Vampire was said to have laid siege on his prey at a hotel in Imo state, without knowing that he was trailed by agents of the Department of State Services (DSS) who caught up with him in the company of one of his girlfriends, in his hotel room.
He reportedly escaped through a window of the storeyed building he jumped out from, but after sustaining a bullet wound. His girlfriend was not that lucky, as she was arrested.
ATTEMPTED TO KIDNAP JUDGES AT A HOTEL
In May 2015, Vampire’s gang had stormed Disney Hotels, along Onitsha-Owerri Road, where judges who were adjudicating on the electoral disputes in the 2015 governorship election, lodged. The gang attempted to abduct the judges, but the police foiled the attack, and he escaped with gunshot wounds. He retreated to his elder brother’s residence in neighbouring Abia state to treat himself, but the police, which received a tip-off, swooped on the place and arrested him.
Those arrested along with Vampire were one Hakeem Bello from Kwara state, Alexander Ohigide, his native doctor, and a man who claimed to be his treasurer. Also arrested were Vampire’s elder brother and wife, who hosted him.
When interrogated, Vampire confessed that he operated in many parts of Nigeria, Cotonou (Republic of Benin) and Abidjan (Ivory Coast), where his family lives. He also confessed to killing some of his victims, including the wife of a traditional ruler, and another whose life he terminated and buried his corpse in a shallow grave.
He also revealed that his wife, who hails from Cameroon, assumed he was a trader. Items recovered from him included large sum of Ivorian currency, some AK 47 rifles and pistols.
A PRISON LORD
A leopard cannot change its skin goes a popular saying. One would have thought that life behind bars would teach Chibueze some lesson or reform him, but having been used to a life of crime, his awkward lifestyle continued.
There were reports that Vampire capitalised on the porosity of security in the prisons and turned himself into the ‘Lord of the Manor’. He reportedly converted some serving officials of the prison and formed a new gang inside while awaiting trial.
Vampire was allegedly given free access to all communication gadgets, including laptops, and high- wired telephones.
One of the officials loyal to him allegedly assembled a six-man gang headed by one Chiboy also known as Ezeudele and they carried out several operations in Imo state aimed at raising funds for Vampire’s freedom.
In one of the operations, they abducted a middle-aged woman and got a ransom of N5m but after the operation, operatives of the inspector-general of police special intelligence response team (IRT), rounded up five members of the gang, including the prison official, from various parts of Imo.
From the day Vampire was arrested, security agencies were locked in supremacy battle.
According to Nation, the police attempted to retake Vampire from prison for further investigation, but the prison authority allegedly refused to release him.
The situation led to a serious disagreement resulting in a shootout between the security agencies. It was after this incident that the police, apparently out of anger washed off their hands in his case and this weakened whatever security measure that could have been put in place to check him.
HOW HIS GANG RESCUED HIM AT A COURT
The power to set a suspect free lies in the hand of a judge, but that is in the spirit of the law, and since Chibueze dedicated his life to working against the laws of the land, his men invaded the premises of Owerri high court to secure his release on January 27, 2017.
It was like a Hollywood movie scene. Witnesses said sounds of gunshot rented the air in the operation which lasted 10 minutes. The attackers, who were said to be inside a sport utility vehicle (SUV) parked within the court premises, opened fire immediately Chibueze disembarked from the prison van.
No one died in the incident, but six people, including five prison officials, sustained injuries. In the end, the attackers achieved their mission, Vampire and eight other inmates were rescued.
OKOROCHA PLACED N5m BOUNTY ON HIM
Rochas Okorocha, governor of Imo, was obviously worried by the exploits of the suspect. After his escape from court, he called a security meeting and pledge to give whoever could volunteer information on his whereabouts the sum of N5 million.
Born to the family of Chibueze in Nwangele local government area of Imo, the 36-year-old man was orphaned at the age of seven. He took to crime at 11, after he dropped out of school.
During his interrogation at the DSS office in Owerri, Chibueze he started engaging in illegal acts after his older brother sent him out of the house because he could no longer pay his school fees.
After a little stint with some gangs in the south-east, Vampire travelled to Cotonou, where he was trained in kidnapping for ransom.
He returned to Nigeria and recruited some notorious ex-militants and army deserters to form the most dreaded kidnap gang that terrorised the south-south and the south-east for over five years.
“I started kidnapping five years ago and I joined the business because my people did not train me. I am from Nwangele local government area of Imo state. I have killed many people but I don’t want to be released now; I want to stay in custody for many years so that my brain will cool down,” he had reportedly told security operatives who interrogated him.
“I live in Abidjan (Cote D’Ivoire) with my wife and only daughter. I don’t know if she is aware that I have been arrested because she does not know the kind of business I do.”