By Dayo Johnson, Akure
A 22-year-old leader of a notorious seven-member kidnap gang, Joseph Akogun that stormed the Aiyedun quarters, residence of the wife of the former Petroleum Minister, Mrs. Taye David-West, on March 23 this year, has opened up on how the gang planned and executed the operation which fetched a whooping N3m for them.
Speaking with Crime Alert during the parade of 64 suspected criminals terrorizing the people of Ondo state by the state police command, Akogun revealed that a family member facilitated the payment of the ransom and collected the lion share.
According to him, “The man gave us details of how we would carry out the operation. He was also the link between us and the family of our victim while we kept her incommunicado inside the Owo forest reserve. It was after our arrest by the Police that we were told that the woman is a wife of the Minister of Petroleum.
Continuing, the gang leader said, “When the kidnap business came to me, I jumped at it because I saw it as a fast way of making cool money. But when the man that brought the business proposal told me the sharing formula, I was discouraged.
He later increased the percentage that will be given to me as the leader of the gang. That was when I became interested because half bread is better than nothing.
When he started giving me details of how we would carry out the operation, that was when I knew that he is one of the family members of the woman to be kidnapped.
He told me to ask for a ransom of N5million and that I should not agree to anything less than N3million because of our own share. After collecting the money, he gave me N150,000 out of the N3million and others were equally given small-small money.
The suspect further jokingly told Crime Alert that if they knew before that the husband is a former Petroleum Minister, he would not have agreed to the sharing formula. He, however, was quick to add that “things are so hard in Naija. What he gave us was better than just roaming the streets doing nothing.”
The victim was kept in Owo forest reserve for 12 days until a ransom of N3million was paid by her family through the member that masterminded the kidnap.
Crime Alert gathered that after the deal had been sealed and the woman released, members of the gang went about spending their loot. Their jamboree was however short-lived when detectives who had been on their trail for over a week picked up four of them including Akogun at different places in Akure and Owo towns.
The state police Commissioner, Patrick Dukumor gave the identity of those arrested in connection with the kidnap of the former minister’s wife as; Dare Olofinji, Dada Bamidele, Fanibe Olayemi and Joseph Akogun-the gang leader.
The police boss said the suspects have all confessed their involvement in the kidnap saga and will soon be charged to court.
The initiator of the crime is said to be on the run just as the police said they are still on the trail of other members of the gang.
In a similar development, the state police command has also rounded up another suspected kidnappers of a female journalist in the state recently. The kidnappers however, collected a ransom of N1m before releasing the female journalist who was nursing a six-month old girl when she was abducted at about 9pm after returning from work that night.
The kidnappers reportedly asked the house help of the female journalist to carry the baby who was sleeping inside her Toyota Corolla car and disembark from the car after which they took the nursing mother away only to abandon her car in Igbara Oke area of the state. She spent barely a week before she was released because they later discovered that she is a nursing mother and do not want to continue to deprive the baby of breast milk.
The Police Chief said that two of the five-member gang who kidnapped the nursing mother who is also a staff of the Nigerian Television Authority, NTA,Akure, Mrs. Olubunmi Oke, on March 21, this year have equally been arrested and would be charged to court.
According to him “detectives traced one of the criminals, Mr. Michael Onaibre, to Benin and arrested him through the blackberry phone he stole from the journalist.
Onaibre then led the security operatives to the house of one Shedrach Etuwe, believed to be the younger brother of the gang leader.
Also paraded included a three-man gang of fraudsters led by a 38-year-old HND graduate who sent a fake bank alert to a car dealer in Akure after collecting a N1.6 million car from him. Akinjide who was later arrested in Lagos said he hacked into the bank’s website using his Laptop. The car was recovered in Ajegunle, Lagos. Another armed robbery suspect paraded was a 22- year-old Oladejo Olalere, a 300 level Accounting students of the University of Ado Ekiti.
The police commissioner said that many of the suspects arrested for car snatching were arrested in Army barracks following a tip off that they drive the snatched cars there and after a week of changing many things on the car, will drive them out to car dealers in other states to re-sell them to unsuspecting buyers. He added that one Honda Accord car marked SQ 147 AAA was stolen from one Adebayo Oluwajemiluyi but was later recovered after it had been re-sprayed and re-registered with a new registration number KS F154 BC.