By Ifeanyin Okolie
Recently, the Lagos State Police Command paraded three suspected members of a deadly kidnap gang who confessed to have masterminded the kidnap of the wife and daughter of a sitting Supreme Court Judge, Justice, Bode Rhodes Vivour and the gruesome murder of a former Deputy Governor of Anambara State, Chudi Nwike.
But in this interview with Crime Guard, the suspects shared an untold detail of how the former deputy governor was murdered. They also disclosed that two errand men who came with the supposed ransom were killed alongside their boss, owing to what they described as failure on the part of the deputy governor’s family to meet their demands.
The suspects who also confessed to have been masterminds of several kidnaps within the South-South and South-East region of the country , revealed that, aside kidnapping, they were also responsible for several robbery operations within these regions.
They further confessed to have worked for the dreaded Delta State born kidnap kingpin Kelvin Oniarah, whose arrest took the combined efforts of operatives of the Department of State Security, DSS and personnel of the Nigeria Army,at a popular hotel in Port Hacourt, Rivers State, last September.
Kelvin who was rumored to have maintained and coordinated over 50 kidnapping and robbery cells within the 12 states of these regions, as well as declared himself a freedom fighter in 2013, formed a movement called the ‘Liberation Movement of the Urhobo People, LIMUP, demanding for amnesty for himself and members of his gang.
He was also said to have enjoyed a very large support from his kinsmen in Ikokori, Eathiope East Local Government Area of Delta State, who felt neglected by the Federal Government in its Amnesty Program on Militants, at the Niger Delta Region. They supported his supposed agitation for a better life for the Urohbo people without taking into consideration the level of atrocities he committed in those regions.
The confessions of three members of his gang who were tracked and arrested by operatives of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad, SARS, Lagos, led by Sp Abba Kyari, have so far shed more light as to how Kelvin ran and operated his gangs.
One of the suspects, 32-year-old Monday Odiete, told Crime Guard during an interaction, that Kelvin was elusive because he had trusted surbodinates. Odiete who said he operated one of the cells in Benin, Edo State, disclosed that Kelvin coordinated his gangs from any part of these regions.
“ He did not always show up at the scene of operations but he usually coordinated our operations on phone. For instance, anytime a victim is kidnapped , it was his responsibility to negotiate and arrange how the ransom would be paid.”
Narrating how they kidnapped and killed the ex Anambara Deputy Governor and the two men who brought the ransom, Odiete said: “ I am a native of Kokori and Kelvin is my brother. We are both age mates. I joined in 2012 and I reside in Lagos. But when Kelvin became a ‘don’ in kidnap, he invited me to join him. Because we were very close, he told me that I won’t be going out for operation with them but that my job would be to look after victims at our camp at Upper Saopa Road, Benin.
I was also responsible in providing registered sim cards which members of the the gang used for negotiation. After I joined, we did a couple of kidnappings but some of our victims were not too prominent and it didn’t make much headlines in newspapers and television stations.
But in March 2013, Kelvin started communicating with one of our members known as Rufus who was in prison. I was told that Rufus introduced kidnapping in Kokori and that he was the one who trained Kelvin and others but was arrested by the Police in Delta State and was taken to prison in 2012.
One night ,I over heard Kelvin discussing with Rusfus on the phone .Kelvin assured that he would rescue Rufus from prison. He asked Rufus when he would be taken to court and Rufus gave him the date and the route they usually took. Two days before that day, he called some of our boys in Edo state including one of Rufus younger brothers and briefed them on his plans to free Rufus from prison. They left Benin in two vehicles a day before the attack and I was told that they ambushed the prison warderson their way to court and killed seven of them before rescuing Rufus and Big Frank, who is another member of the gang.
They brought them to our base in Benin the next day and Rufus called a meeting and briefed us on how to stay away from arrest. He advised us to make sure we used two mobile phones.
He said one of the phones would be for our family and friends while the other would be for the job. He also told us to be very careful of issues we discussed on the phone because our calls could be tapped.
After that, Rufus took charge of the entire cell in Benin,while Kelvin went to Port Hacourt. Rufus then led the team to Benin Bypass one day, where they kidnapped a man, his driver and an estate agent based in Porth Harcourt.
When they brought them to our camp we didn’t know he was an ex deputy governor, until 24 hours after, when it was all over the news.
While he was in our custody, he received an alert of N50million deposit on his mobile phone and Rufus asked him to give us N30 million out of it.
He agreed and wrote a cheque of N30 million on his wife’s name, with a letter informing his wife that he has been kidnapped and that she should hurriedly get the money to him. We gave the letter and cheque to his driver and asked him to go along with their car, to deliver it to his boss’s wife.
The estate agent on his part, said he had no money . But he wrote a N3million cheque with a letter, which we took to his house and gave it to his wife. Three days later, they sent the money to us and we all shared it. I got N100,000 out of it.
But the deputy governor’s wife was so stubborn that she refused to comply. Rufus pressurised her for close to one week , before she managed to send just N5million,which infuriated Rufus.
Rufus drove the two men who brought the money , with the former deputy governor away. While he drove, he called the deputy governor’s wife on phone and threatened to kill her husband.
At a point, he told the driver to pull up in a narrow street on Agbo road. When we got to the spot, he ordered the errand men and their boss to get down from the car. He thereafter, took them to a corner.
Ggunshots followed. When he came back to the car, he called the deputy governor’s wife and told her to go and bury her husband with the money she refused to give to us. When Kelvin heard about this, he wasn’t happy with Rufus.
How we kidnapped Supreme Judge’s wife, daughter, others
On their parts, Godspower Ovwigho 31, and Stanley Efetobo, 29, also narrated how they kidnapped Justice Bode Rhodes Vivour’s wife and daughter.
According to them; After the quarrel between Kelvin and Rufus over the deputy governor’s killing, Kelvin came back to Benin and led his boys to another operation, where they kidnapped two white men who were expatriates working at Port Harcourt, a woman and her daughter who were going for a wedding ceremony and a Pastor.
As usual , we waited for news of missing persons to know the status of our victims. The expatriates told us whom they were and Kelvin took them to Port Hacourt to negotiate their ransom, while the Justice’s wife and daughter were taken to Kokori, Delta state,where Rufus took charge of the negotiations. On the day they brought them to the camp, the Justice wife offered to give us N5million in order to allow her go but Rufus refused. He called her husband on the phone and made his demands. After a while they agreed on a price and Rufus asked the man to bring the money to Benin. “
Rufus was in a car trailing the man with the money while one other member and I were on a motorbike taking instructions from Rufus. After a long trail to ascertain that the man with the money was alone, Rufus asked the man to wait inside a fillings station very close to the University of Benin,where he told me to collect the money from him. I drove straight to the man who saw me and tossed the bag containing the money to me. I collected it and rode straight to Ekosodi Village,where I brought out the money which was in foreign currency and spread them on the ground to check for tracker, before putting them back into a bag and took it to Rufus.
That operation didn’t go well with us because after their release security operatives invaded Kokori in search of us and in the process, Rufus was killed at a check point by policemen,while on his way to Delta State from Benin.
Kelvin at that time started receiving calls from security operatives to surrender but he refused. But after a while, he called the DPO in charge of Isokolo Police Station and told him that he wanted amnesty. The DPO gave his number to an Army officer who called him and he told them that he wanted amnesty. When I saw the situation on ground, I relocated to Lagos “
On how he was arrested Odiete, said: “ I never knew that the police in Lagos were on my trail. They tracked the number Rufus used in the negotiating with the Justice’s wife to a man who registered the sim card for me, at Oba Market Ring Road, Benin city. The man sold over 50 registered sim cards to me for N1,000 each and they were all registered in fake names and photographs. He called me to see him at his shop . I thought it was to buy sim cards. But when I got there, I discovered he was with some policemen. That was how I was arrested”, he said remorsefully.