On March 18, 2023, Saturday Vanguard published a story of a businessman, Timothy Uche, who was abducted by a four–man armed gang, one of whom disguised as a pregnant woman, in the Ejigbo area of Lagos.
After three days in captivity, his abductors settled for N15 million ransom, as against the N75 million initially demanded.
When it became apparent that Uche’s family could not raise N15 million, Crime Guard reliably gathered that his abductors collected N5 million from his family. But they made him take an oath to pay back the N10 million balance upon his release.
In a brazen arrogance, while dropping Uche off at Ayobo on Tuesday, March 14, 2023, the kidnappers informed him that they would come back for the balance, threatening to wipe out his entire family if he made any attempt to outsmart them.
Barely had Uche finished nursing the bruises inflicted on him while in the kidnapper’s den, when his wife received a call from the kidnappers, demanding the N10 million balance.
They gave him May 6, 2023, as the deadline to pay, with an instruction that the money must be paid in cash and must be in United States dollars.
The collection point was Ikotun, a Lagos suburb. Three of them came in a motorcycle and succeeded in collecting the dollars that were starched in a bag, from the businessman’s wife.
Then all of a sudden, a car from nowhere hit their operational motorcycle, and they zoomed off, flinging all of them to the ground. The bag containing the dollar notes was also flung open, revealing some wades of dollars.
They were subsequently arrested by armed policemen from the State Criminal Intelligence and Investigation Department, SCIID, Yaba.
Among the suspects Surprisingly, Crime Guard reliably gathered that during the preliminary investigation, one of the arrested suspects was discovered to be a serving security agent. The gang’s two operational AK-47 rifles were also recovered by the detectives.
During interrogation, the suspects whose identities were not revealed by the Police, mentioned a popular Lagosian as the leader of the gang. However, when detectives stormed the alleged leader’s house and guest houses on the mainland and Island, he was nowhere to be found.
BIZ MAN SPEAKS
In an interview with Uche, his expression depicted fear and uncertainty about the action of the fleeing gang leader. He was however full of appreciation for the Police.
According to him, “ But for the Police, especially the leader of the team that arrested the suspects, I would have been a dead man by now. This has proven beyond doubt that the Nigeria Police is not as docile as some people thought. I was made to understand that the leader of the Police team was responsible for the apprehension of the suspects that killed a Central Bank Staff, his wife and one of their children in Ogun State. Such officers deserve special promotion to motivate them to do more”.
Continuing, he said, “ They said they released me on debt. The condition then was that they would release me to go and work in order to get money because I told them that the amount paid as ransom was what my wife could raise.”
“They forced me to drink a liquid substance as an oath binding me to refund the balance. I drank it out of fear. But I have nullified it.”
“Initially, I ignored their calls and threats upon being released, until they sent one demonic letter to me, saying they were coming to wipe me and every member of my family out if I didn’t bring the money. I begged them to reduce it but they refused. At that point, every member of my family was afraid. We took solace in prayer, until detectives from the SCIID where the matter was reported, came to our rescue.”
“My wife took the money to them. But they kept tossing her up and down, by changing the collection points. Eventually, when they told her to come to Ikotun, they ordered her to trek a long distance to a designated point. Yet, when she got there, they told her to go to Egbada.”
“By then, she was stressed beyond her endurance threshold. Out of frustration, she told them to come to kill her and that she was tired of being tossed here and there. She sat down at a spot, ruminating on what to do when a motorbike came to where she was and told her to hand them the money. That was when the Police struck”.
GANG’S LEADER IN PRISON
Crime Guard gathered that investigation into the arrest further revealed that the leader of the gang that was formed two years ago was serving a jail term at the Kirikiri Correctional Centre. However, he was said to have worked with his members from prison, an action that questions the efficiency of the correctional service staff.
But during interrogation, the suspects claimed that was their first operation.
At the time of putting this report together, efforts to get the reaction of the Lagos State Police Public Relations Officer, SP Benjamin Hudenyin, on the outcome of the investigation to ascertain the exact security agency of one of the kidnap suspects failed as he neither responded to his calls nor text messages sent.
@ Vanguard Newspaper