Residents of Kogi State and other states in the North Central are heaving a sigh of relief. They can now sleep with both eyes closed, following the arrest of Zakeri Yua Isiaka, an alleged notorious kidnapper, armed robber and political thug.
In recent times, Zakeri, with his gang had made Kogi occupy a prominent position in the index of insecure states in the country. But the era of infamy of the 30-year –old man, with nine wives came to an abrupt end, penultimate Sunday, when operatives of the Inspector General of Police Special Intelligence Response Team, IRT, on the Okene- Akure Highway, intercepted him.
Fifteen assault rifles, including an Ak47 rifle, snatched from the IRT during an encounter and several magazines and ammunition were recovered from the suspect.
Sources who spoke with Saturday Sun at the Kogi State Police Command, also described Zakeri, as the most powerful and dreaded political thug operating in Kogi State and its environ in recent time. The source also added that Zakeri has over 100 boys, who are very loyal to him, and heavily armed with assault rifles and are scattered all over Kogi.
The source further explained how Zakeri and his boys carried out several major robberies, kidnapping and politically related killings within the State, adding that Zakeri often claimed that those he and his boys had killed were their political foes who were also out to kill him.
Saturday Sun finding reveals that Zakeri, who is a native of Odu-Ochelle Town in Dekina Local Government Area of Kogi State, and his boys took total control of his Council and other Councils in Kogi East Senatorial Zone. It was further gathered that Zekari started as an armed robber after his return from the creeks of the Niger Delta, where he was said to have worked for Ateke Tom during the period of the Niger Delta militancy.
When he returned to Kogi State, he was said to have brought his experience to bear, as he established a notorious armed robbery ring with some of the rifles he brought back from the Niger Delta, which the gang used to carry out several high profile robberies within Kogi, Ondo, Benue and Kaduna States, including Abuja, where he has an auto mart.
His gang, which eventually grew in large number, soon made Kogi, a hotbed for kidnapping and violent robbery activities, as areas under his control was impenetrable by the police and other security agencies within the State. He was said to be highly revered, as his notoriety soon attracted the attention of political bigwigs in the State, who saw him as a valuable tool for political expediency. They were said to have provided huge funds for him during the build up to the 2015 general elections and it was believed that Zakeri’s activities during the election was instrumental to the success of one of the parties in Kogi State.
As his notoriety grew, crime rate multiplied and there was widespread of insecurity in the State and his activities became a source of worry to security agencies, within and outside the State.
The situation became so bad that the Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, in June 2016, barely few days after he assumed office, deployed a Special Strike Force to the State, to combat kidnapping and other crimes within Kogi and its environs.
While deploying the policemen, the IGP had said, “the deployment became necessary as the police could no longer watch innocent citizens suffer in the hands of criminals rampaging Kogi and its environs”, stressing that, “with the presence of the Strike Force, Kogi State and environs were expected to enjoy peace”.
Zakeri and some of his boys in July 2016 were reported to have attacked a team of IRT operatives, who were in Kogi to rescue a middle-aged man, Edward Abutu Amedu. Amedu was kidnapped and was held in his camp, for days. It was gathered that two of his boys were arrested from their hideouts at the outskirt of Egume and Anyimgba towns of Kogi, and were taken to the camp, where their victim was held.
But on arriving the camp, Zakeri was said to have ordered his boys to open fire on the approaching vehicle. And in the process, two IRT operatives were said to have sustained bullet wounds after the incident, with one of the police rifles declared missing.
Although, the victim was eventually rescued, that singular operation drew Zakeri into the IRT radar and there was a resolve to track and end his activities.
And on October 23, 2016, the search for Zekari paid off, as he was trailed by the IRT and was arrested on Okene – Akure High way, while on his way to Akure, Ondo State.
When Saturday Sun interviewed Zakeri at the Force Headquarters, Abuja, where he was being detained, he described himself as a freedom fighter, who was out to rescue Kogi State from the clutches of evil men, who he said have been controlling the affairs of the State for a long time.
He added that he was a repentant armed robber, explaining that he mobilized his boys to work for the APC during the last elections and that he delivered in all the areas he manned.
According to him, he was promised the Chief Security Officer, to the State Governor, by the late governorship candidate of the APC, Prince Abubakar Audu. But that Abubakar’s death before the end of the election dashed his hope.
Zakeri stated further that those he was accused of killing were his political foes and unrepentant criminals who he said were also after his life.
Giving an insight into his background, Zakeri said he is married to nine wives and 15 children, and that he was a secondary school dropout, who went into farming at Isenyi, in Oyo State for about eight years.
Thereafter, he went to Port Harcourt, Rivers State and joined the Ateke Tom’s camp of the Niger Delta militant.
Hear him: “When I got to Port Harcourt, I was squatting with a boy from my home, as I had no job, then I started visiting an Indian hemp joints to smoke and I discovered that the people coming to that joints were mainly into oil bunkering. I told them that I wanted to join them and they started beating me. They thought I was an informant; I was beaten for one week before a guy who identified himself as Ateke-Tom’s boy, took interest in me, and then allowed me to join them.
“They taught me how to handle firearms and we did lots of oil bunkering and I was making close to N3million on each trip. After I made my money, I came to Abuja and settled down. I built a house and then I went into car dealership. I was buying and selling cars. I also came back with three guns and I kept them in the village. Because at that time the siting governor had given guns to all the thugs in my state and since they had killed my blood brothers, I thought it wise to have my own guns so as to protect myself with it.
“When Captain Idris Wada and Prince Abubakar Audu contested in 2011 elections, I went back home and still protected the votes of my people. I made sure I used my guns to prevent my people’s vote from being subverted, and one of my friends was even killed in the process. After that election, I came back to Abuja, went back to my business, and I bought motorcycles for people to ride.
“Before the 2015 elections, PDP and APC thugs had a fight and I came back home and fought for APC and I defeated the PDP. It was then that it became obvious to my APC party men that I had become a very powerful thug. When the 2015 election campaign started, Prince Audu gave me N30 million to work for them in the presidential election. We worked for them and they won. But my younger brother, Farouk was killed in front of my father. They picked him up from his room, where he was sleeping with his wife and killed him and took away his corpse.
“When it was time for the governorship election, Prince Audu also called me to work for him and he mobilized me with N20million. I went home, worked for him and he promised to make me the Chief Security Officer, Kogi Youth leader and I would also be collecting revenue from farm products in Kogi State.
“We worked and Audu won. I mobilized people to vote for Audu all over Kogi State, I was also ambushed and almost killed by Ugwuaraka, who supported PDP. But after Prince Audu died and Yayaha emerged as governor, I made efforts to reach out to him and to let him know that I was in support of his government. But the people I was sending to the governor weren’t giving the right information. They made him to understand that since I was very close to Prince Audu and his family and that I was very angry with the way his family has lost out in the power equation, they reasoned that I will never work for him, that I will rather make the State ungovernable. But these were all lies.
“I controlled all the APC thugs in Kogi State and since I repented I have been seriously out against crime. Any of my boys who engage in kidnapping, I use to arrest and hand them over to the police. But in most cases, the police would release the person after collecting money from such person. So what I do now, is that if I arrest you for kidnapping in my domain, I will kill you. You can ask the police in the State about this and they will confirm it.
“After all I did, the State governor didn’t find it necessary to appreciate my efforts simply because he believes that I am fully in support of Prince Audu’s son, Mohammed, becoming the governor. But that is not true. My loyalty is to APC,”Zakeri, declared.
Zakari also explained that few weeks before the elections, he and members of his gang robbed a vehicle carrying huge amount of money in Abuja. He added that he made over N50million from the operation and that he narrowly escaped death as one of his gang members also attempted to kill him.
He said: “It was Dan that brought the job to me. He told me that some politicians were moving money around Abuja and it seems that the money was meant for election. We mapped out strategy and when we sighted the vehicle approaching, we double-crossed it and we snatched the vehicle from the driver. After the operation, I kept three Ghana- Must-Go bags for myself and I gave Dan and others involved, two to share. But while we were sharing the money, one of Dan’s friends who had a gun with him wanted to shoot me and he ended up shooting himself.
“Another operation I carried out was in Okene, I did that job with Black and we made N10 million from that.”
He also said that he lost seven of his rifles to the police in Niger State, after his younger brother who used one of his guns to snatch a car was arrested.
According to him, “after the Kogi East election was canceled and the reelection was about coming, I gave seven of my rifles to my manager and when I was away for the election, my younger brother took one of the guns and gave it to a Yoruba boy,who used it to snatch a car and the Yoruba boy was arrested and he led them to my car stand in Abuja, where police seized all the vehicles, and they also carried away my seven rifles, which were inside one of the vehicles”.