BY OLA AJAYI, IBADAN
…’N1.1m debt incurred in politics led me to the act’…
When they got a ransom of N13million from the kidnapping of Mrs. Titilayo Oluwole-Rotimi, wife of a former governor of the defunct Western State, they had forgotten that whereas the long arms of the law may be slow in catching up with suspected criminals, no matter how long, according to the Bible, “sinners shall not go unpunished”.
It was all regret for Godwin Mfon, 38, and his fellow suspects, Ghandi Daniel Effiong, Johnson Kingsley and Sunday Akanime, as Oyo State Police Command, after what was explained as a rigorous investigation, paraded them in Ibadan.
While three of the suspects in the kidnapping are lucky to be alive, Daniel Effiong, an ex-staff of Oak Enterprises, the company where they abducted Mrs. Titilola, died a rather suspicious death. Immediately after the kidnapping and the ransom shared, one of the suspects, Akanime, told Sunday Vanguard that he was mobbed when he started behaving like a mad person.
It still remains cloudy what led to the death of the fourth suspect. One of the suspects stated that he died after collecting his N7m share. But Akanime claimed he died before collecting his share. He said, having got the hint of his death, his colleagues brought his own part of the ransom to his one-room apartment which he later shared with four relatives.
Knowing that the game was up, there was a heated argument among the three suspects about the involvement of Akanime in the kidnapping. Akanime narrated how he met the other suspects.
“I saw them by the roadside at Abeokuta trying to fix their car that was broken down. They asked me where they could get a good mechanic and, since I lived in the area, I called a mechanic for them. Subsequently, they used my Okada for which I got paid. At times, they would buy fuel for me. I didn’t know that they were kidnappers. I have never been involved in crime in my life”, he said tearfully.
“Without knowing that Effiong had died, they brought his bag to me to give to him. They told me that the bag contained N250,000. When I was going out, I told my wife to take good care of the bag because there was money in it. Later, I knew that Daniel had died. I then took the bag to his family at Akwa-Ibom. I called his relatives and handed the bag and the money to them. It was then his sister asked me to give them the description of the police station where he was rescued when people attacked him. I told them”.
Though, Mfon, claimed Akanime was not in the know of their operations, Kingsley said, they carried out three successful kidnapping and, on the three occasions, it was Akanime that allowed them to use his room to hatch the plans.
The prime suspect, Mfon, said Akanime got only N5,000 out of the N13m ransom paid on Mrs Oluwole-Rotimi.
He gave nobody any doubts that he was neck-deep in the crime. When asked how they hatched the idea of kidnapping and why they zeroed in on the former governor’s wife, he said it was Effiong, a former employee of the woman, that conceived the idea.
“Effiong said he knew how we could make big money because we made very little money from the previous operations. The first one, we made N100,000; the second one, we made N1.5m. He said he was sure if we succeeded in kidnapping the woman, we would make big money”.
‘Frustration led me into kidnapping’
According to the prime suspect, after losing a councillorship election in Akwa-Ibom, he was frustrated and, because he had borrowed money running into N1.1million, he was heavily in debt.
“It was then my friends called me from Lagos that I should come over. They introduced me into kidnapping. We carried out three successful ones. We first kidnapped a man in Abeokuta, but we did not realize much money. We kidnapped another woman at Aja in Lagos. The kidnapping of Mrs Oluwole-Rotimi was our third operation”, he stated.
On how they kidnapped the wife of the former governor, Mfon explained: “We just drove into the company and whisked her into the car and drove her straight to Ogun State. We rented a house from a caretaker for a week. That was where we kept the woman. We gave her food that she requested. We always bought fast food from eateries. We didn’t beat her”.
He narrated that they told Effiong to call one of the family members of the woman and demand for a ransom. “After negotiations, they paid us N13million. We told them to drop the ransom in the bush at J4 in Ogun State and we took an Okada there to carry the money. Out of the N2.5million that I got, I settled my debt of N1.1million and used N1.5m to buy that navy blue Honda Accord car with number plate LAGOS LSR 446 BB. N7million, went to Effiong and Kingsley got N1.5million. I want government to forgive me, I will never do it again”.
Speaking on how he was arrested, the suspected gang leader stated: “I have a lady in Abeokuta. She called me that she wanted to see me and I went to her. While with her, the police arrested me”.
Oyo State Police Commissioner, Mbu Joseph Mbu, said four suspects were arrested in connection with the crime. They are from the South South part of the country and they have confessed to the kidnapping. During investigation, we discovered that an ex-staff of the company masterminded the kidnapping. They would be soon be charged to court”.