27/Sep/2015 // 1014 Viewers
■ Kidnap gang extort N2bn in 4 years, abducts 400 persons
■ 2 monarchs, perm sec still missing in South-east, after paying ransom
■ Former deputy governor, over 30 others killed
The situation is horrifying, even as some of the cases are frightening. From the Niger Delta region where the monster seems to have emerged and the South East where it is now a thriving industry, to the West and Northern parts of the country, Kidnapping for ransom has spread across the length and breadth of Nigeria, like a maddening fire and threatening to consume the soul of the country.
No day passes without stories of kidnapped Nigerians stirring the airwaves. No one is spared: children, young adults, aged, monarchs and even the clergy. Sunday Sun investigation has revealed that in the past four years, over 400 Nigerians have been kidnapped for ransom purposes in different parts of the country and about N2 billion paid out. Most frightening is the situation where kidnappers after collecting hefty ransom, still went ahead to kill their innocent victims.
Only last week, the former Secretary to the Federal Government , Chief Olu Falae was kidnapped in his farm in Ondo State and the kidnappers demanded the payment of N100 million ransom. A week before last, the wife of the Deputy Managing Director of The Sun Publishing Limited, Mrs Toyin Nwosu was abducted from her home in Lagos. Both Chief Falae and Mrs Nwosu were lucky to be released by their abductors unharmed, but the former Deputy Governor of Anambra State, Dr Chudi Nwike was not so lucky as his abductors killed him for not disclosing in full his entire worth. Even the man that brought the ransom was also killed.
Sunday Sun investigations reveal chilling accounts of activities of kidnappers around the country.
Anambra used to be kidnappers honey pot
From Aloysius Attah, Geofrey Anyanwu and Jeff Amechi Agbodo
Anambra State with about 177 communities used to be the unofficial headquarters of kidnappers in the South East. With a large number of political heavyweights and prominent businessmen, the state arguably parades the highest number of people with private security guards as escorts.
From the abduction of a sitting governor for political reasons years back, what started as mere accusation of witch hunt and business rivalry between an indigene of Nnewi and another Nnewi-based businessman from Akwaeze who was earlier kidnapped, later led to the kidnap of a Chinese working in an auto plant in the largely business town.
The skeleton of the Chinese was later found in a thick forest in Ebonyi State after the leader of the kidnap gang, Innocent Orji was apprehended in Onitsha by the police. The gang was alleged to have collected N5 million ransom but the Chinese took ill and died in the forest before they could receive the money.
Kidnapping was to later assume a booming business in Anambra that for many years, the dare devil kidnappers held residents of the state by the jugular to the extent that on weekends, people who own SUVs dare not stay on the road past 6pm for the fear of running into the hands of the abductors.
Between January 2008 and August 2012, according to a civil society group, Campaign for Democracy, CD, kidnapped persons paid ransoms said to be valued at about N1.2 billion during the period in the south east.
The victims according to the report paid money ranging from N5 million to N30 million per individual. During the said period, Anambra State reportedly recorded the kidnapping of 273 persons, the highest in the zone. It was reported also that between late 2012 to 2014, kidnappers in Anambra might have fleeced about N1billion from their victims.
Often times, relations of the rich are the target, apparently to extort a fortune. Among those that had had the misfortune of falling into the trap of kidnappers are the traditional ruler of Ukpo in Dunukofia Local Government Area of Anambra State, Igwe Robert Eze, who is the younger brother of the billionaire oil magnate and businessman, Prince Arthur Eze.
Igwe Eze was kidnapped by a four –man gang who drove in a green SUV into his palace in Ukpo as he returned from a service at nearby St. Mary’s Anglican Church about 12 noon.
The royal father’s kidnappers demanded N100million, but no member of the family was willing to say how much ransom was eventually paid before the monarch regained his freedom.
Igwe Eze was the fourth traditional ruler in Anambra State to fall into the hands of kidnappers. The first was the traditional ruler of Abagana in Njikoka Local Government Area, Igwe Patrick Okeke, who was abducted and taken to Uzo Uwani area of Enugu State from where he was rescued, while the traditional ruler of Adazi Nnukwu in Anaocha Local Government Area, Igwe Lawrence Oragwu, and that of Ihembosi in Ekwusigo Local Government Area, Igwe Jerome Udechukwu, who were kidnapped for over one year now, and have not been seen till today. It is feared that they might have been killed. Just like Igwe Eze, Oragwu was kidnapped as he was going for early morning church service.
It was not only tragic but terrifying when a former Commissioner for Science and Technology in Anambra State, Mr. Chike Okoli, was abducted and killed despite the alleged payment of N16 million ransom by his family as demanded by the kidnappers.
The ex-commissioner was abducted in Agulu town in Anaocha Local Government Area by the gunmen who intercepted him on his way to his Nanka country home, in Orumba South Local Government Area of the state.
Okoli was taken to and kept in a bush in Ugwuoba, which is a border town between Enugu and Anambra states, from where the kidnappers contacted members of his family through telephone calls and demanded for ransoms. The final result was the collection of his lifeless body by the family after the ransom was paid.
There was also the case of the late Dr. Chudi Nwike, the former Anambra State deputy governor under the Dr. Chukwuemeka Ezeife administration, who was killed by his kidnappers because he allegedly did not tell them the truth about his financial standing while he was in their den. The family of Nwike, who was abducted in Anambra State and taken to a bush in Delta State, had allegedly raised N5 million for the kidnappers and sent somebody to deliver the money at an agreed spot, only for the kidnappers to kill the former deputy governor and the person that brought the N5 million on the reason that an alert of N30 million came into Nwike’s telephone as he was about to be released and the kidnappers felt that his family was not sincere.
Other high profile kidnap victims included the Anambra State chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Prince Kenneth Emeakayi, who was abducted at Nri Junction along Awka –Agulu Road as he was returning to Awka; the chairman of Nnewi Auto Parts dealers, simply known as Iroko; a former chairman, Nnewi North Local Government Area, Mr. Ernest Obiora; a manager of Access Bank and a cashier of the bank; a manager of Julius Berger Plc, who was kidnapped while on holiday; a member of the state House of Assembly, Dr Emeka Aniebonam; a manager of CCC Construction Company and the chairman of Emeka Offor Foundation, Sir Tony Obi.
There were also kidnap victims that allegedly paid handsomely before being released. They include an expatriate whose company was said to have paid N165 million ransom; a sister to the managing director of Orange Drugs, Chief Ekenna, whose family reportedly paid N50 million; a younger brother of Chief G.U.O. Okeke, chairman of GUO Group, whose family allegedly paid N35 million and another unnamed top businessman whose family was said to have paid N45 million.
Knowing the consequences of the scourge of kidnapping on the image, security and economy of the state, the former governor of the state, Mr. Peter Obi then took a drastic measure of demolishing properties used for kidnapping and seizure of the proceeds from the perpetrators when caught. After fortifying the arsenal of the law enforcement agents by the provision of logistics and equipments, Obi faced the kidnappers with anger though time was ticking on his second tenure.
During the same period, a notorious armed robber and kidnap kingpin, Olisa Ifedike a.k.a Ofeakwu, was arrested. In the course of a house search, a cache of arms and ammunition were discovered. They included 27 AK47 rifles, one K2 rifle, two 06 rifles, one General Purpose Machine Gun (GPMG), one Rocket launcher, six Pump Action rifles, three dane guns, one Beretta pistol and 15 grenades. Also recovered were 12,800 rounds of AK47 live ammunition, 530 rounds of LAR ammunition, 95 rounds of GPMG live ammunition, 1000 rounds of K2 live ammunition and 143 magazines totaling 14,425 rounds. Obi ordered the demolition of Ofeakwu’s house and other properties he acquired with the blood money.
When Obi finally bowed out on March 17, 2013, Obiano came in and upped the ante by setting up a combined /joint task force codename Operation Kpochapu.
The task force immediately swung into action forcing hoodlums in Onitsha to relocate to neighbouring towns of Obosi, Nkpor, Oba, while others fled to Asaba in Delta State.
The governor’s next action was to rid the state of kidnappers and the first port of call was his home town, Aguleri, where three buildings allegedly built by suspected kidnappers were destroyed. More demolitions were to take place at Azia in Ihiala Local Government Area, Ogidi in Idemili North Local Government Area and Ojoto in Idemili South Local Government Area, Okija in Ihiala Local Government Area and Nnewi in Nnewi North Local Government Area and Nando in Anambra East Local Government Area.
So far, more than 140 suspected criminals have been paraded by the Special Anti-Robbery Squad, SARS, in Awkuzu in Oyi Local Government Area, while about 25 houses have been demolished by the Obiano administration. But as efforts are made to curb the incidence of kidnapping and other crimes, especially in the light of the kidnappers’ houses demolition measure, more youths engage in it, thereby posing more challenges to government and security operatives.
In one of the demolition exercise monitored by the reporter in Nando community, three houses were demolished in one day in an operation led by the Commissioner of Police, Hosea Karma.
One of the houses demolished at Isioye village was a six-bedroom bungalow painted in golden colour belonging to one Emeka Eze, alias Emeka Nando, a notorious kidnapper, who was implicated in several kidnap and other criminal activities. lour belonging to one Emeka Eze,
CP Karma said Emeka was apprehended initially, charged to court and was granted bail before he ran to Lagos from where he continued in his evil ways until he died during a shootout with the police. He said his criminal gang was behind the abduction of the popular transport mogul, Chief Godwin Ubaka Okeke, Chairman, G.U.O Transport Company.
CP Karma also disclosed that the house had been used, as a safe haven for keeping kidnap suspects since 2009 while items recovered from the building included five 50-litre gallons filled with ammunitions, a general multipurpose gun (GMG) and three AK-47 rifles.
He said it was in line with the state government’s directive that any property used for kidnapping or built with proceeds from kidnapping would be demolished or confiscated that the demolition squad visited the building.
The next port of call was Akamanato village also at Nando. This time it was a two-storey building. CP Karma said the house belonged to a certain Nnamdi Nwabia, another notorious kidnapper who belonged to the same gang with Emeka Nando. He said Nwabia too was shot dead while government was demolishing the property to prove to the people that crime does not pay.
At Abube Ndiuno village, Nando, it was another storey building belonging to late Ofamaiji, whose son, Osinwa reportedly converted to a hideout for kidnap victims. The police boss in the state while giving further clarification named three kidnap victims in the past who were kept inside the lonely building. He said the principal suspect, Osinwa was still on the run while the police have spread its dragnet to catch him.
Gov. Obiano, while appraising the demolition exercise so far, said there was no going back on the determination of the government to rid the state of all criminal activities.
He declared that Anambra State was now safe for investors because of government efforts to checkmate crime in the state and assured residents that even the yuletide season would be crime free in the state because of an enduring peace presently in place. He disclosed that a retired commissioner of police had been engaged by the government to coordinate the activities of vigilante groups which had ensured that security was in place at the grass roots.
In Abia, there is nothing to show for the millions collected as ransom, reports OKEY SAMPSON in Aba
Kidnapping which began in the Aba axis of Abia State in 2008 had by 2010 nearly brought the entire state on its knees. By this time, a man known as Obioma Nwankwo a.k.a (Osisikankwu) from Ugwuati in Ukwa West Local Government Area of the state and who operated the most dreaded gang of kidnappers, had seized the state by the jugular as he terrorized the state from border to border and even beyond.
Osisikankwu, an expelled member of Movement for the Actualization of Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB), originally operated from Ebonyi State, but after his expulsion, he joined the Niger Delta militants from where he moved down into Abia State.
At the height of his exploits, Osisikankwu masterminded the kidnap of 15 pupils of a private school in Aba which necessitated the drafting of soldiers by the federal government to checkmate kidnapping activities in the area.
Second in notoriety to Osisikankwu was a young man called Susu who like the former held the state to ransom with his dreaded acts. Susu’s operational base was said to be at Umuezi in Obingwa Local Government Area.
Although the two held sway between 2008 and 2010 before they were dislodged by soldiers, but in recent times, there have been groups particularly around the Aba axis who have taken kidnapping as a lucrative business and that informs why no week passes in the area without any reported case of kidnapping.
These kidnappings have gone with them millions of naira paid as ransom but the most pathetic aspect was that some of the victims were killed after family members had paid various sums as ransom.
On August 10, 2012 a suspected five-man gang abducted 78 year old woman; Mrs. Martha Oyediya Kalu of Ndi Okocha Ogbu, Amaogudu, Abiriba in Ohafia local government of Abia state.
The grandma was kidnapped at her son’s (Kalu Gabriel Eke) house at Agba Ogbu, Amaogudu, Abiriba. Despite the fact that ransom money was paid on August 24, as demanded by the kidnappers who promised to release her after the payment, the Septuagenarian as it was gathered was later killed.
Just some months back, a gang of kidnappers operating within Ukwa East area killed a woman they had earlier abducted. The lady’s name was given as Mrs. Chioma Chukwura
It was gathered that the late Chukwura who resided in Aba with her family members had travelled to Calabar, Cross River State with her driver, one Ike Chikodi. She was killed after N2m ransom was reportedly paid to her abductors and they dumped her body under a shrub inside the bush.
Cases like that abound and with the heavy ransom paid by relations of kidnapped victims, that hitherto abominable crime has become a lucrative business which many youths have taken to.
In the history of kidnapping in Abia, one man-Osisikankwu remained the king. He made money in millions from his unholy trade, but surprisingly, he had nothing to show from the blood money he made. By the time he was killed, Osisikankwu had no known house of his at Ugwuati or elsewhere. Reports also had it that no account was traced to his name in any bank. His according to people, was a case of ‘generate and consume’.
As it was with the kidnap kingpin, Osisikankwu, so it is with others who are involved in this ‘business’, most of them do not have anything to show for the millions they have collected as ransom from captors’ relations. When Sunday Sun visited the home town of a known kidnap kingpin in the state, it was difficult to believe that the man was not able to put up a decent house in his village despite millions of naira he collected as a leader of a notorious band of kidnappers.
In Delta, kidnappers held sway reports PAUL OSUYI, Asaba
Bolaji, a pint-size but deadly gang leader took Asaba and its environs by storm for more than five years during which he led a beastly kidnapping squad. Bolaji ate, breathed and dreamt kidnapping as he made stupendous wealth from various escapades until he was gunned down by security operatives.
For the unsuspecting public, the diminutive and unassuming ringleader was a property developer as he built houses in town from which he collects rents from tenants. But the houses were all proceeds of hefty ransom collected from relatives of kidnapped victims. In his days, high profile kidnappings were rampant particularly between 2012 and 2013 in Asaba area.
Relatives of politicians in high offices, business moguls and seasoned technocrats were the victims of his daring escapades. And from each of these society men and women, Bolaji and his gang milked hefty sums of money as ransom to free their kidnapped relatives. In some cases, the victims were never released alive.
He was believed to have spare-headed the kidnap of former Commissioner for High Education in the state, Prof. Hope Eghagha in a deadly operation which saw the commissioner’s police orderly lifeless as gunshots were sprayed on the vehicle that bright Sunday afternoon around Owa-Oyibu area. The commissioner was returning to Asaba after the weekend.
Prof. Eghagha breathed the sweet air of freedom after about two weeks in captivity following the alleged payment of a princely sum as ransom.
Before the kidnap of Eghagha, the gang had also swoop on Tobechukwu Ochei, younger brother of the then Speaker of the state House of Assembly, Engr. Victor Ochei. The younger Ochei was on his honeymoon when the hoodlums struck, depriving his wife of the full benefit of their honeymoon. He also regained freedom after a handsome price was paid.
Then, Markson Macaulay, son of the then Secretary to the State Government, Comrade Ovuzuorie Macaulay was the next victim of the vicious gang. He was seized in his village, Owholigbo in Isoko North council area where he had gone to spend some time with his grandmother. Again, an undisclosed amount was said to have been paid to secure his release.
Bolaji was believed to have spread his tentacles outside Delta State as he was credited to have planned and executed the operation of the kidnap of a former deputy governor of Anambra State, Chudi Nwike whose corpse was found in Agbor area of Delta State with a note, blaming the family for delaying ransom payment.
Besides, Bolaji’s squad killed a business mogul and Managing Director of a petrol station who was popularly known as Obilink after squeezing out N20 million from his distraught family. He was shot on the leg and subsequently abducted from one of his filling stations along the Benin-Asaba-Onitsha highway and taken into the forest from where negotiation for ransom was made.
After settling for N20 million and collecting the princely sum, the hoodlums dumped his decomposing corpse near a tree located within the Achalla-Ibusa forest and directed the unsuspecting family to the place.
But the game was up for him when he led his gang to desecrate royal tradition by invading the palace of the Obi of Ogwuashi-Uku Kingdom and brazenly took away the Queen Mother, Prof. (Mrs.) Kaneme Okonjo in a celebrated kidnap case.
That incident of December, 2012 jolted the entire nation as the victim’s daughter, Dr. (Mrs.) Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala was the powerful Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister of the Economy under former President Goodluck Jonathan.
The Queen Mother’s hostage takers held her in captivity for five solid days, daring security high commands who had temporary relocated to Delta State. From one kidnappers’ den to the other, the hoodlums were said to have made negotiations for ransom with the victim’s family who reportedly coughed out N10 million to secure freedom of the aging queen.
Unknown to him, security operatives were closing in on them while he was making ransom calls with his boys who held on to the victim. And as he attempted an escape, he was shot, and later gave up the ghost before his gang members were rounded up.
Elsewhere in the oil-rich city of Warri and its twin commercial town of Effurun, one Kelvin Oniarah led a murderous kidnapping squad, making stupendous wealth from his escapades.
Several times, his boys were arrested, and several times he stalled the suspects’ prosecution by spearheading attack on the prison van taking the suspects to court, killing security operatives at will and setting his boys free from the claws of justice.
But Oniarah was a celebrated philanthropist in his hometown of Kokori in Ethiope East council where he disguised as a freedom fighter before his loving kinsmen who he showered affluence upon by empowering women and youths.
Besides, he was said to have demolished mud house and rebuilt them with bricks for his people after milking hefty ransom from relatives of kidnapped victims. As a result, the community aided his escape each time security storm the town searching for him. And when he was finally arrested, the community mobilized over 20 lawyers to defend him at an Abuja court.
Both Kelvin and Bolaji were a handful for the then Commissioner of Police, Ikechukwu Aduba, now retired, as they were striking simultaneously in Warri and Asaba respectively. But to his credit, Bolaji fell and Kelvin was arrested.
Moreover, Aduba led various operations to suspected kidnappers’ den across the state, demolishing houses used for hostage taking. Kelvin’s abode in Kokori was brought down by security operatives. A five-star hotel in the university town of Abraka where victims are kept was also leveled with the owner still counting his loss.
The reign of Bolaji and Kelvin also prompted the state House of Assembly to pass a law proposing death penalty for kidnappers and their cohorts but the then governor, Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan refused to sign the bill which the House later vetoed to override the governor.
In Edo, Kidnappers are blood thirsty, writes Tony Osauzo
In Edo State, the first bloody kidnap incident took place over ten years ago when the founder and Managing director of Big Joe Motors, Mr. Monday Osayande was abducted in Benin. Despite several millions of naira that was reportedly paid as ransom, his abductors did not spare his life. He was later found dead.
Yet in 2009 another transport magnate and founder of God is Good Motors, Mr. Edwin Ajaere was also kidnapped in Benin. Like Osayande, Ajaere was found dead after his family paid the sum of N3,000.000 demanded by his abductors.
From there on, the kidnap “business” grew to alarming proportion with no fewer than five cases of abduction recorded on a daily basis in the state.
Among the big-wigs that fell victim of kidnapping was Chief Mike Ozekhome (SAN) whose kidnap two years ago along the Benin-Auchi Road was bloody, resulting in the death of four policemen.
Others were Uyi Oloton, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Uyi Technical and Chief Dan Odiete, an Estate Valuer and CEO of Dan Odiete and Co. In both cases, one policeman lost his live.
As usual, several millions of naira were paid out as ransom to buy their freedom but as is always the case, victims of kidnap even after they have parted with money, hardly agree to paying ransom. This is because the security agents often advice them not to give out information about how much ransom they paid.
The reason for this, it was learnt, is to discourage others who may want to see kidnapping as a lucrative business.
Following the rampant incidents of kidnapping, Edo State House of Assembly passed a law prescribing death penalty for anyone involved in the crime while all property of such persons are to be confiscated or demolished by the state government.
So far, no one has yet been convicted of the crime and executed, as many of the cases are still pending in court.
Kidnappers rake in millions in Bayelsa
From Femi Folaranmi, Yenagoa
In 2012, when Governor Henry Seriake Dickson assumed office, one of the bills he sent to the House of Assembly was the bill on anti-kidnapping which was designed to curb the spate of kidnappings in the state then.
Investigations revealed that the bill which is now a law and in operation in the state with death penalty as the punishment was only able to halt temporarily the activities of kidnappers , who have now become more emboldened and have since turned abduction of aged parents of politically exposed persons; monarchs and government officials into a cash cow.
From January 2015 till date, about 100 cases of abduction and attempted kidnappings have been handled by the Bayelsa State Police Command and the Department of State Security with victims paying through their nose several millions of naira to kidnappers to regain their freedom.
Checks indicated that kidnappers exploiting the emotions of relatives of kidnapped victims usually warned them not to get security agencies involved in negotiation so as not to risk the lives of their loved ones. This strategy has often worked for the kidnappers as several victims especially in coastal communities pay ransom for victims to regain freedom.
The latest kidnap case in Bayelsa was that of the Special Adviser to Governor Dickson on Political Affairs, Chief Fyneman Wilson who regained his freedom few days ago after millions of naira had exchanged hands.
Before him, Mrs Nestor Binabo, wife of the former acting –governor in the state and the clan head of Tombia Kingdom, King Christian Otobotekere were kidnapped and only released after ransom had been paid.
While the Police and the DSS continue to discourage families of kidnapped victims from paying ransom and insist no money was paid whenever a victim regains freedom, findings showed that victims often instruct their families to commence negotiation and source for the money.
A vivid example was the kidnapped Chairman of Ogbia Local Government Area, Mr Eniye Sasime Abah who was kidnapped and regained his freedom few days later. The Police after his release maintained that no ransom was paid, however recent revelations point to the fact that about N10 million was removed from the treasury to facilitate his release.
An uncle of former governor Timipre Sylva, Chief Benson Eseni- Adigo who was aged 87 was kidnapped from his country home in Okpoama and a ransom of N5 million was paid for his release. Days after his release, the family heard nothing again from the kidnappers until his dead body was discovered in a shallow grave after the kidnappers were eventually arrested.
In Bayelsa, there is a strong nexus between kidnapping and sea-pirates as the same gangs specialise in the two crimes which has continued to thrive in coastal communities forcing King Ebitimi Banigo to compare it to Boko Haram insurgency ravaging the North East,
It is believed that the inability to test the anti-kidnapping law in the law courts in Bayelsa has continued to make the fight against kidnapping difficult. A top security source confided in Sunday Sun that until some kidnappers have been given the maximum punishment of death, the fight against kidnapping would continue to be flip flops.
Kidnapping in Ebonyi is not lucrative
From Emmanuel Uzor
In Ebonyi State, the story of kidnapping is not far from what is obtainable in every other place. Though kidnapping in this part of the country is still at its infant stage, the men of the underworld still make their ways into various towns across the state to kidnap their victims and demand ransom from the relatives of victims before they regain freedom.
Kidnapping in Ebonyi is merely witnessed in few communities especially Afikpo and Abakaliki, the Ebonyi State capital.
The new police commissioner in the state, CP Peace Ibekwe Abdallah seems to have clamped down on the kidnappers and made a breakthrough in Afikpo.
From the recent statistics released by the police in the state, kidnappers in the state demand from N50 million and settle for as low as N300,000 as ransom. The recent kidnap of the Afikpo zonal Manager of the Nigeria Breweries where the suspects settled for N300, 000 has further confirmed the police report.
It was gathered that while kidnappers in various states smile to the banks, building palatial homes and riding exotic cars after successful kidnapping, their Ebonyi state counterparts are still wallowing in poverty and penury as they demand very little as ransom.
Many people believe that owing to the poverty level in the state as only very few individuals in government call the shots, kidnapping in the state is not as profitable as it is in other states and as such, kidnappers are not buoyant in this part of the country.
Kidnapping is an endemic sore in Imo State
From GEORGE ONYEJIUWA, Owerri
Imo is one of the states in the south east where kidnapping is not only endemic but has become a menace, a situation which has forced most well to do citizens of the state to move about with armed police escort at any time of the day. The situation has become so alarming that people are kidnapped for as low as N300,000.
However, in other to tackle this evil industry in the state, governor Rochas Okorocha had decreed that any building where kidnapped victims are kept would be demolished and confiscated by the state government and to underline his serious intention, the building belonging to a controversial monarch in Aboh Mbaise Local Government Area was pulled down when it was discovered that kidnapped victims had been kept there. In the same vein, another duplex in Orlu belonging to a Lagos based businessman suffered the same fate when it was discovered that the abducted elder brother of a business mogul, Chief Comsas Maduka who was kidnapped in Lagos was kept there by his abductors while negotiating for ransom.
Again, an underground building in Ikeduru where kidnapped victims were kept was also demolished and confiscated by the state government. But the menace has continued unabated.
In the last five months, there has been reported cases of kidnapping in the state. Chief Raymond Irechukwu, a retired civil servant was abducted from his house in Umuofocha Nekede in Owerri West Council Area of the state with his kidnappers demanding for N10 million ransom before he could regain his freedom. Also, family members of the bureau head of News Agency of Nigeria in Owerri, who was abducted on her way home from work had to pay an undisclosed amount to her abductors before she could breathe the fresh air of freedom after three days in captivity.
Similarly, in August, the family of Chidiebere Nwokocha from Umuayachu Ubulu in Oru West Council of the state reportedly paid the sum of N3 million to secure his release.
Just last Sunday, Mrs. Esther Uzoma, wife of Protus Nathan Uzoma, a columnist with The Sun Publishing Limited was abducted from their home in Owerri, apparently for ransom purposes.
It would be recalled that in late December of 2013, Miss Nkiru Sylvanus, an aide to Governor Okorocha was kidnapped by gunmen in Owerri while she was shooting a documentary for the state government and the government allegedly paid the sum of N20 million to secure her release after spending a week in the custody of her abductors.
However, one of the most pathetic cases of kidnapping in Imo State was the abduction of Mr Emenike Okechukwu Ihekwaba, a Permanent Secretary and Principal Secretary in the office of the deputy governor of the state while on his way to his village in Nkwerre in 2012, but in spite of the ransom of N10million that was paid to his abductors, he was still not found till today.
Kidnappers make a lot of money in Ondo
From Bamigbola Gbolagunte, Akure
The rate of kidnapping in Ondo State has become alarming as millions of naira reportedly exchange hands before the victims are realised.
Many of those who had their relatives and friends abducted are forced to pay ransom ranging from N10 million to N20million before the release of the abducted persons.
From all indications, many of the abductors who are young men and women share the proceeds from the unholy work among themselves, as evident in the confession of one of the suspected abductors of Princess Toyin Omosowon, the Regent of Akungba Akoko, a community in Akoko South West Local Government Area of the state who was abducted in June this year.
The suspect who said he had involved in the abduction of not less than three persons, disclosed that huge sums of money are often received at the end of each operation.
The abduction of Mrs Omogbene Adeborile, the mother in law of the Olugbo of Ugbo kingdom, Oba Fredrick Akinruntan in August this year showed that the kidnappers were heavily paid.
It was gathered that the abductors of Mrs Adeborile were paid over N10 million before they released the octogenarian.
The woman who stayed for a week in the den of her captors, it was gathered, appealed to her people to pay the abductors the money as they threatened to kill her if the money was not paid.
The abductors, after a series of negotiations and pleas reportedly agreed to receive the N10 million as they initially insisted on taking N50 million.
In the case of Mrs Omosowon, the family and the entire Akungba Akoko community were planning to pay N15 million ransom before she was miraculously rescued by soldiers and officers of the Department of State Security (DSS).
If not for the miraculously rescue of the Akungba Akoko Regent, the ransom would have been paid as she had spent close to two weeks in the hands of her captors.
Also, it was gathered that a huge sum of money was paid before the former chairman, Ondo State Muslim Pilgrims Welfare Board; Alhaji Ibrahim Jimoh was released after his abduction.
Jimoh who was abducted in Akure in July, this year spent five days with his abductors before the ransom was paid.
In Ogun State, kidnappers collect over N5 million
SEGUN OLATUNJI in Abeokuta reports that in the Ijebu area of Ogun State, the menace of kidnapping has become rampant, with the perpetrators abducting one prominent and rich personality or the other as well as their relations at regular intervals.
Only last November, the Special Anti-Robbery Squad of the Ogun State Police Command arrested five members of a kidnap syndicate alleged to have been terrorising the residents of the Ijebu axis of the state.
An ex-soldier who was the kingpin of the syndicate, Akinyele Jaiyesinmi was arrested along with Adeyinka Olusoji, Gbadamosi Dada, Taiwo Ayoola and Sulaiman Kalejaiye.
While parading the suspects, the then state commissioner of police, Ikemefuna Okoye described the arrest of the syndicate as a breakthrough for the command and a setback for the suspects who he said had been responsible for the series of kidnappings in the Ijebu axis.
From the confessions of the suspects, they were responsible for kidnapping, Rachael, the mother of a member of the Ogun State House of Assembly, Mr. Remmy Hassan at Omu Ijebu, and they collected N1m ransom before she regained her freedom.
The kingpin of the kidnap gang who said he was dismissed from the Army in 2004, in his confession, said, “We kidnapped a woman at Omu Ijebu and we collected N1million ransom. We kidnapped another man at Epe garage and collected N500,000, while we also collected N1m from the relations of a man kidnapped at Ikangba Ijebu.
“We kidnapped a woman at Imodi Imosan and another man at Idowa Ijebu; we collected N1million and N2million, respectively, from their relations.”
Also, the deputy vice-chancellor of the Tai Solarin University of Education, Prof. Olukoga Olusanya, was kidnapped last October at Odogbolu.
The illicit business of kidnapping had become so attractive that even a serving councillor of the All Progressives Congress in the state was arrested along with four others last March in Ijebu Igbo for the crime.
The 45-year-old counsellor was nabbed along with others and a herbalist for the crime. The arrested councillor said it was only his vehicle that was used for the operations by the members of the kidnap gang.
But the other members of the gang admitted that they had already collected ransom ranging from N900,000 to N1.4 million from the families of their victims.
They also confessed to receiving a minimum of N300, 000 per person within a month as their own share of the ransom collected from the families of kidnap victims.
Last June, 11-year-old Aminat Lasisi died in the hands of her abductors following the inability of her parents to pay the N2million ransom demanded by her kidnappers.
Aminat’s dead body was later dumped near the Divisional Police station in Ogbere in Ibadan.
The little girl was allegedly kidnapped by her father’s former employee, Babatunde Aderonmu, 21 at his bakery from where he moved her to Ogbere area of Ibadan, Oyo State, where she later died while still in captivity due to the alleged injection of an unknown substance into her system.
Aderonmu as well as Sina Damilare, 40 and Taofeek Kola, 50, were all arrested in connection with the alleged kidnap and murder of the 11- year- old Aminat by officers of Ogun State Anti-Robbery Squad.
The state Police Public Relations Officer, Muyiwa Adejobi said, the suspects contacted the parents of the girl and demanded N2million ransom before they could release her but finally they agreed on N300,000 with the intervention of the police. The suspect gave out the account number of a prophetess whom they claimed had prayed for them before to the parents.”
Barely 11 days after this tragic incident, a Lagos commercial bus driver, Emeka Obi and his accomplice simply identified as “Prince” abducted a 97-year-old grandfather, Pa Amos Samaiye from his house in Ijebu-Ode and demanded a N1million ransom from his family.
The kidnap gang members took the nonagenarian into a forest where they held him captive for four days before he was rescued by the police.
Obi who was the only member of the kidnap gang arrested however confessed that his runaway friend and accomplice lured him into the nefarious business of kidnapping.
The commercial bus driver also claimed that his friend and accomplice was the mastermind of the abduction of the nonagenarian.
He added that “Prince” with whom he had successfully carried out two previous kidnap operations which fetched them a total ransom of N3million, also trained him in the crime.
“Prince is my friend. I knew him four years ago. He was the one who introduced me to this business. He told me we could make quick money from it. He taught me how to do it. The first one we did, we collected N2million as ransom but the second one, we got only N1million. This one, we were yet to get the ransom for baba before the police got us,” Obi said.
Kidnapping in Rivers State, a booming business writes TONY JOHN in Port Harcourt
Kidnapping in Rivers State appears to be a booming business judging by cases of the incident always recorded. For instance, between July and August, 2015, 22 suspected kidnappers were arrested and 11 victims rescued by security agencies in the state.
In recent times, some prominent Rivers people had fallen victims of abduction. Among them were the Archbishop of Diocese of Niger Delta North (Anglican Communion), Bishop Ignatius Kattey and his wife, Beatrice, former President of Nigerian Bar Association, Okey Wali, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), and the Vanguard Newspapers columnist, Donu Kogbara.
Kattey and his wife were abducted in Eleme, his local government area; Wali was kidnapped in his community, Rumualogu, in Obio/ Apkor Local Government Area, while Kogbara was whisked away from her residence in Nkpogu, in Obio/Akpor LGA.
But, kidnap victims, who later regained freedom, had always decline they paid ransom. They also stated that their abductors usually warned them not to mention anything ransom to members of the public.
Recently, a kidnap suspect, Musa Azubuike Umez, who was paraded alongside other kidnappers, by the state Police Command, in Port Harcourt, told Sunday Sun that he decided to go into kidnapping because of hardship. They abducted one Promise Elemah in Rumuigbo on February 23, this year.
They killed the victim and dumped his body in a soak-away pit at Egbelu, Ogbogoro in Obio/Akpor LGA and went ahead to collect a ransom of N570,000 from the wife.
On July 5, 2015, one Friday Ozogo was kidnapped around Elekahia by a gang of three armed men. For inexplicable reasons, according to the state Police Command, the kidnappers killed their victim and hastily buried him in a shallow grave around Choba waterfront.
Unfortunately, despite their callous actions, the kidnappers continued to harass the victim’s family for ransom, and collected over N500,000. They pestered on the family for more money until Police tracked them down. The trio of Kelvin Ogbulon (22), Chinwendu Akani (20) and Nelson Kacaranmoh (23) were arrested. They confessed to the crime.
Similarly, on August 19 , this year, there was the reported case of one Temple Achinike Worlu, who was arrested by the Anti-Kidnap Unit (AKU). He was a part of the syndicate that abducted and murdered one Friday Ozogo in Alakahia village, Port Harcourt.
Also, on July 23, this year, one Monday Asuquo was arrested in Eleme, for trying to collect a ransom for the release of one Barrister Daniel. He confessed that he was contracted to abduct the victim for the sum of N1 million.
There was another kidnap incident that took place outside Port Harcourt metropolis. After abducting the victim, it was alleged that an undisclosed ransom was paid. The suspects collected the ransom money and still, killed the victim. Four days after, the bandits dumped the corpse in a cassava farm in Borokiri, in the state capital.
However, not much has been heard as punishment meted out to the suspected kidnappers after their arrest. Recently, the Eighth Assembly of the state House of Assembly amended the Rivers State Kidnap (Prohibition) Law, No. 3 of 2009. Governor Nyesom Wike, on assumption of office, had sent a bill to the House of Assembly to amend the former law. In the new anti-kidnap law, any assets accrued from kidnap would be confiscated by the state government and the suspect(s) prosecuted.
Mikel Obi’s father also kidnapped in Plateau
Mariam Aleshinloye Agboola in Jos writes that one celebrated case of kidnap was that of Pa. Michael Obi, father of Chelsea Football Club of England midfielder, Mikel Obi. He was kidnapped on his way to work on August 10, 2011 and was taken away in a vehicle painted in army colours but was rescued in Kano 12 days later and the kidnappers arrested. The kidnappers were said to have demanded N10m ransom but it was not certain if anything was paid before he was rescued by the police at Kabuga Quarters of Kano.
The said kidnappers were paraded by the police in Kano and their names were given as Ifeanyi Esseit, Ndubisi Friday Brasil Chukwurah and a woman Nkechi Ossai and a Nigerien national, Sule Ibrahim. They were dressed in army uniforms at the time of kidnap. In July 2013, the Special Task Force arrested a three-man squad which had abducted eight victims and kept them in one Chiwarna Hotel in Zinariya area of Jos. They had been contacting the victims relations on what would be paid on each of them when the Special Task Force pounced on them and released the victims. No ransom was reported paid.
Three foreigners working with a construction company were also kidnapped between Mangu Local Government Area of Plateau State and Bauchi and later released after ransom was paid. But the details were not made known.
There was also a kidnap case of three children of the former chairman of Muslim Pilgrim Board, Alhaji Dankurma whose driver, Sani Mohammad connived with some people to hide the three kids in Yandoya area of Jos instead of dropping them at school in 2010. The kidnappers demanded N20m and later reduced it to N5m. Security men swooped on them, rescued the children from the hideout. No ransom was reportedly paid.
Kidnapping on the increase in Kwara
LAYI OLANREWAJU in Ilorin reports that the recent increase in rate of kidnapping in the country has caused a lot of concern to well meaning Nigerians and Kwara State is not an exemption.
The first celebrated kidnap case in Kwara was in 2011 when the son of a prominent politician was abducted at his father’s petrol station along Asa Dam Road closely followed by abduction of an Igbo businessman resident in Ilorin the Kwara State capital.
In all these, an undisclosed ransom was alleged to have been paid as the victims kept sealed lips on the amount that was paid but what was certain was that some money ranging from N5 to N20 million was paid before they were released.
To residents of the state, the war on kidnapping was about being celebrated when on September 12, 2015, two groups of kidnappers were arrested by men of the state police command as they were about picking their ransom.
The Kwara State Commissioner of Police, Mr Esosa Amadasun said the first group involved two brothers who connived with others to dupe their younger brother when he claimed to be pleading with the kidnappers whom he begged to reduce the ransom from one million naira to two hundred thousand and eventually to one hundred thousand . It was this ransom he was about to pick when policemen arrested him.
Speaking in an interview with the Sunday Sun, one of the kidnappers, Usman Mohammed said he needed the money to celebrate the Sallah festival as he had been looking for money to travel to his village in Sokoto so that he could enjoy the loot with his friends.
According to him, his friends will respect him and he will be treated like a king. Mohammed who said he is a Fulani said they do not joke with the Sallah festival, hence he had to look for money at all cost.
He said kidnapping became the best option as it is not as difficult as armed robbery and other vices.
While speaking on probable ways kidnappers spend their loot, Kwara Police Public Relations Officer, ASP Ajayi Okasanmi said they spend their loot on prostitutes, alcohol and clothes.
In Bauchi, kidnapping started 6 years ago
FROM PAUL ORUDE BAUCHI
Kidnapping seemed to thrive in Bauchi State in the last five or six years.
In November 2010, daughter of a former Registrar General of the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC), Mustafa Ahmed in Bauchi became one of the first known victims.
Four armed men stormed Ahmed’s house and abducted his eleven year old, Jamila on her way to school with her mother around 7: 40 am.
The kidnappers came on motorcycle and a car to abduct the girl, taking her on a motor cycle to a car waiting for them in another place.
Earlier that same year, Mahmud, 11 year-old son of Garba Dahiru, a former Commissioner for Finance in the state, was kidnapped.
Dahiru was aspiring for the seat of the House of Representatives for Bauchi federal constituency.
The abductors, who stormed the house, told him that his political opponents sent them to kill him but that they would know what to tell them for their inability to kill him.
Dahiru who said it was when he failed to give them additional money as demanded that they took his child.
He said the abductors had asked for a ransom, but refused to disclose the amount.
Jamila and Mahmud were released to their parents eventually but nothing was mentioned about the ransom. Millions were said to have been exchanged for their freedom.
Seven foreign workers were also abducted in Bauchi State in February 16, 2013, and a security guard was shot dead by gunmen who attacked the construction company in Jammare.
The kidnapping of the foreigners was later attributed to Boko Haram insurgents.
But a glimpse into cases of kidnapping in the state showed it has become a money spinning venture.
What kidnappers do with their money
Saliu Abdullahi Salman, 19, disclosed that he connived to kidnap his three years old step brother in order to raise money to buy a car.
Salman, a student of Federal Polytechnic, Bauchi, and his gang demanded for N10 million as ransom.
Unfortunately for him, they were arrested by the police.
He said: “My father is rich but if I demanded such money from him he will refused because he will tell me he has three wives and will have to cater for other children, so I planned with my friends to kidnap my step brother so that my friends can call him and demand for ransom so that when he pays the ransom, I can collect my own share and use it to buy a car.”
One of his friends, Abdullahi Mohammed said: “We demanded for N10million but the father said he would pay N3 million and we insisted it was too small. We finally agreed that he would pay N5 million”
If the kidnapping of 72 old former Accountant General in Bauchi State, Alhaji Baffa Tilde, was shocking, his brutal killing was almost unforgivable.
Tilde was killed by his abductors after negotiation for an amount of ransom given fell short of what was expected.
His abductors brought him close to Eid praying ground, Bauchi, on a Motorcycle and shot him three times on his head and abandoned his corpse. to Eid praying ground, Bauchi, on
The shooting caused fear and pandemonium among residents in the area as many fled for safety.
Also, a family member of 72 years old Tilde said the abductors demanded for ransom adding that they were still negotiating before they killed him.
Kidnapping is a harrowing experience, says a former Bauchi State lawmaker, Yusuf Nuhu who survived it.
Nuhu who was kidnapped by gunmen in Toro Local Government Area of the state on March 3, 2014, was rescued after a gun battle between the gunmen and the police, a situation that led to the death of a 10 year-old-girl, Hauwau Auwaly hit by a stray bullet.
The suspects abandoned their Golf 3 vehicle with Reg no MKT 553 AA and escaped in a bus with bullet wounds, while Nuhu also escaped and hid in the bush where he was later rescued.
He said: “It was a terrible experience. I was with them for 10 days in a bush. I was given some kinds of food but I only ate biscuits in order not to have stomach upset.
“My face was covered throughout the 10 days I spent with them and I was not able to communicate with my family members. They don’t discuss anything in my presence, they always move far away from me while communicating with themselves.
When asked if ransom was paid to the kidnappers, Hon Nuhu said” there was nothing like that.”
Besides the above cases, many other high profiling kidnappings of associates of prominent politicians and business moguls in the state have been carried out with ransom running into millions of naira usually undisclosed passing hands
Kidnapping booms in Cross River
From JUDEX OKORO, Calabar
Kidnapping is booming in Cross River State as the metropolis has witnessed high profile cases of abduction in the last couple of months.
Investigations by Sunday Sun revealed that the State Police command had recorded some good number of kidnap cases with victims ranging from politicians to businessmen.
Besides, there have been reported cases of child abduction by an alleged child kidnappers’ gang especially at the outskirts of the metropolis perhaps for rituals.
Checks revealed that there have been incessant cases of child snatching within some parts of Calabar South, Ekorinim, Ikot Ansa Ikot Omin and 8-Miles axis of Calabar Municipal.
Some of the high profile kidnap cases recorded so far in the state in the last one year include the abduction of the former Deputy Speaker of Cross River House of Assembly and Labour Party, LP, candidate, for the Calabar South/Akapbuyo/ Bakassi federal constituency seat in the 2015 general election, Hon. Dominic Aqua Edem, in March, 2015; Pastor Seyi Adekunle of the Winners Church, along IBB Way Calabar on June 13, 2015; one Mr Oddy Well and the elder brother of former Director-General of Department of State Security Services, DSS, Chief Asuquo Ekpenyong Ekpe.
Others said to have been discreetly kidnapped and released after paying ransom are some businessmen including some officials of IPMAN Calabar branch whose names could not be ascertained as at press time.
Investigations revealed that families of these victims paid ransom ranging from N10m to N22m to secure their release.
Child kidnapping has also become a recurring decimal in the past few months especially in Ikot Omin and its environs on the 8miles axis with not less than five families reporting their children either abducted or missing. 20 children were kidnapped in nine months in Cross River, says a rights group.
According to report by the group, Prevent Abuse of Children Today (PACT) Coalition, it disclosed that Cross River has disclosed that about 20 children have been allegedly kidnapped in the state in the last nine months.
Investigations by Sunday Sun revealed that no case of victims’ families paying ransom and still get killed in the process, neither are there recorded cases of demolition of houses said to be belong to any suspected kidnappers.
But it was learnt that most of the alleged kidnappers operate from outside the state and within the creeks, thereby making it difficult to checkmate their activities.
Speaking with our correspondent, the state police commissioner, Mr. Henry Fadairo, said they have made some breakthroughs by arresting some of the alleged kidnap kingpins including 10 others from Aba currently facing trial in a Magistrate court. Fadairo said that with the enactment of death sentence law for those caught in kidnapping, the command has not recorded any case in that regard.
The Police commissioner said, “There will be no hiding place this time because the state is up in arms against kidnapping especially with the passage of anti-kidnapping law. I can tell you we would crack down on the hoodlums this time to avoid further ugly occurrence.”
Victims deny paying ransom in Osun
CLEMENT ADEYI in OSOGBO reports that DSP Adekunle Omoyele, former Officer in Charge of Special Anti- Robbery Squad (SARS), Osun State Police Command, Osogbo, who spoke with Sunday Sun said that among the cases he had handled so far, no victim admitted to paying any ransom.
He, however, said that he could not rule out the possibility of some victims paying ransom to buy their freedom without the police knowing about it.
“What I mean is that there are some cases where victims pay ransom, but are not willing to let police know about it. But when we get to know, we try our best to get the kingpins arrested for prosecution.
DSP Omoyele who is now the Divisional Police Officer (DPO), Dada Estate, Osogbo, also told Sunday Sun that he had had cases where kidnappers, after they had been arrested by the police, confessed that they collected ransom from their victims, but when the police make further investigation, the victims and their family members would deny paying any ransom to the kidnappers.
Worse still, even if the victim’s family is negotiating with the abductors, they would not disclose it to the police. He said such was not helpful to the police as it encourages the criminals to indulge in the illicit ‘business.’
“That act by the victims and their families is akin to shielding the kingpins. It is a way of protecting their interest or aiding and abating kidnapping in the country,” he lamented.
Omoyele also expressed worries that victims’ relations or families are never willing to give the police the necessary information when they are in trouble with abductors. This, he added, frustrates police’s efforts in cracking down on them.
While also speaking on what the abductors use their loots for, DSP Omoyele said that in 2011, a ringleader of a kidnapping syndicate arrested in Ibadan, Oyo State, by his squad had confessed that he used part of his own share of the N5 million ransom to buy a Toyota Camry.
According to him, the police authorities confiscated the car and used it as an exhibit for prosecution.
He also recalled that another kidnapper that was arrested in 2013 in Ibadan, said he used part of his own share of the N10 million ransom to set up a very big boutique which was also confiscated by the police authorities and used as an exhibit for prosecution.
On whether any victim paid a ransom and still got killed, Omoyele said the only case he handled that was close to such scenario was in 2013 in Ilesa, Osun State, when a victim died while negotiations were still going on by the family members.
He lamented that the family members refused to disclose to the police that they were negotiating with the abductors until the victim died and the criminals were later arrested by the police.
Kidnappers held Akwa Ibom captive for 4 years
FROM JOE EFFIONG, UYO
Kidnapping in Akwa Ibom had a four-year tenure; from 2008 to 2011 or thereabout; after that it seemed either the kidnappers suddenly lost interest or there was nobody again to kidnap.
When they held the state captive, nobody was safe, mothers, fathers, wives and children, all were victims. Among those who fell victim was Gen. Edet Akpan, who was the director of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) when Gen Muhamadu Buhari was military head of state. He was kidnapped in a church in his village in 2011 and in the process, two women were killed.
Other high profile victims were the wife of the former military administrator of Ogun and Rivers states, Capt Sam Ewang, Comfort. Ij the case of Mrs Ewang, some other family members were kidnapped at the point of collecting the ransom. Ewang was then the ANPP gubernatorial candidate; the then chairman of Onna Local government Area, Mrs Owodighe Ekpotai, now in the House of Representatives, Chief Edward Ekong, the father of the former governor Akpabio’s personal assistant on security matters, Cpt. Iniobong Ekong was kidnapped in the church but he managed to escape from his abductors after three days. There were some other kidnappings which ended in fatalities. Notable among them were the paramount ruler of Nsit Ubium, HRM Edidem Robert Obot, who tried to resist being kidnapped in his palace and was consequently assassinated; the former PDP national publicity secretary, Mr Paul Inyang who was killed in the church by kidnappers after he and the hoodlums exchange gun shots at St Ebenezer African Church, Mbierebe Akapawat in Ibesikpo Asutan LGA, and Mrs Philomena Udonwa, the mother of a PDP gubernatorial aspirant, Mr Inyang Udonwa, who was kidnapped and ransom paid but the kidnappers only released the corpse of the woman.
The only known case of demolition of property as a result of kidnapping was that of Nturukpum, a sleepy community in Uruan Local Government Area where a kidnapped expatriate woman but married to a Nigerian, was said to have been harboured. When the security agents stormed the area and freed the woman in 2009, the state government sent in bulldozers to level the community, its village head was equally demoted.
Since after the 2011 election, the only known case of kidnapping in the state was that of the paramount ruler of Esit Eket LGA, HRM Ubong Peter Assam, kidnapped two years ago by some youths said to have had links with Niger Delta militants, because of some disagreement over payment of oil spill compensation by Mobil Producing. More than N12 million was allegedly paid to secure his release. Since then, kidnap business died in Akwa Ibom State
There has not been any high profile conviction of kidnap suspects in the state. A former commissioner in the state accused of being involved in the kidnap of expatriates in Ikot Ekpene was only detained for more than a year and subsequently released. As such, there is no known kidnapper who seems to have made it big through the “profession.”
In Enugu, kidnapping is on the decline but…
From PETRUS OBI, Enugu
Although kidnapping is on the decline in Enugu State now, few cases are still being reported here and there with the abduction of the Chief Imam of the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, UNN Central mosque being the latest incident.
A top Islamic leader in Nigeria, Adam Abullah Idoko was abducted in his village of Ogrute Enugu-Ezike in Nsukka, Enugu state.
Five days after his abduction, a ransom of N20million was demanded which the Muslim community at Nsukka said they didn’t have.
He was later released but as it’s always the case with kidnapping, nobody disclosed what was paid but experience has shown that no victim has been released without a ransom.
Kidnapping became a money making machine in the state to the extent that individuals who have rich parents or relations started arranging for their own kidnap.
The police in Enugu State arrested one Samuel Ani after he allegedly “kidnapped himself” and demanded N2 million ransom from his brothers.
Samuel, saw his own kidnap as the quickest way of getting financial assistance from his brothers, who he labeled “stingy fellows”.
Immediate past Vice Chancellor of Enugu State University of Science and Technology (ESUT), Professor Cyprian Onyeji, was abducted while he was still a VC but regained freedom, after spending eight days with his kidnappers.
An initial ransom of N200m was demanded but unconfirmed sources believe about N100m was paid before his release.
Among the victims of the kidnappers in Enugu were Professor James Adichie, the father of award winning writer, Chimamanda Adichie and former Enugu State Head of Service, Nze Dennis Eze.
Business had however gone bad in some cases where even after the ransom had been paid, the victims were still killed.
The Ohajianya family of Obollo Village in Isialla Mbano, Imo State were not lucky as the body of Lolo Florence Ohajianya was recovered from a bush near Okigwe, 17 days after she was abducted.
In a related incident, 50-year-old widow, Mrs. Josephine Ogbuanu was killed by her abductors seven days after she was abducted and kept in a forest where she was fed with yoghourt and bread.
A seven-man kidnap gang that abducted the 50-year-old widow, and a 14-year-old boy Chinedu Ekwealor were arrested and confessed that the woman had to die because she recognized them. They disclosed that she wasn’t the target but there was no way they would have returned her. An undisclosed amount was paid as ransom, yet she was killed.
Source: The Sun