By Dayo Johnson, Akure
”AFTER thinking for weeks on how to lure my master’s son out of Church on Sunday, which was the only free day we could kidnap him, I remembered he liked ice cream so much. So I decided to walk to him during a church service and asked if he wanted me to buy ice-cream for him.
“He followed me, immediately, and, after buying the ice cream for him, I put him on a waiting Okada and he was taken to the house of a native doctor, Eze Ifeanyi, by Joel Carol.
“ I, immediately, returned to the church and pretended as if nothing had taken place.
“After the church service, as we set to go back home, my master and the wife discovered that Benprosper was missing, and I joined them to look for him after which the family reported the matter at the police station”.
This was the statement of an electrical apprentice, Stephen Obinna, who, together with three others, allegedly conspired to kidnap the eight-year old son of his master, Chuks Ezechiefoh, during a church service at Don Bosco Catholic Church, Araromi, Akure, on May 28 at about 9am.
Obinna apparently knew the weakness of his master’s son and decided to use it to lure him out of church to the waiting hands of one of his co-conspirators, who was lurking around the church premises on Okada.
Sunday Vanguard gathered that the child was moved to the house of the native doctor, Eze Ifeanyi, at Omoniyi Street, off Agbogbo, Akure by Joel. The native doctor allegedly commenced negotiation with the father of the victim as soon as they arrived.
Speaking with Sunday Vanguard when the suspects were paraded, Obinna confessed that he was approached by Eze, on a Saturday, to say that if he wanted to get rich, he knew a quick business that would not take time and would not be strenuous.
“Eze, who I always see around our shop at Arakale, Akure. approached me one Saturday and asked me if I wanted to be a rich man without much stress”, the suspect narrated.
“At first, I didn’t understand him, but I told him l wouldn’t mind if it would not involve crime.
“He asked me about my master’s telephone number and how many children my master had.
“I volunteered all these information but l still did not know what was on his mind until he said the business he was talking about was kidnapping and that there was ‘cool money there’.
“He promised that as soon as my master paid ransom, I would become rich and would run away from Akure and start my own business”.
Obinna said the quest to get rich and start his own business made him to agree to be part of the kidnapping.
Police sources hinted that during investigation, a source in the church volunteered information that one of the three apprentices of the victim’s father was seen the day he went missing putting the little boy on a motorcycle.
The source reportedly gave the description of Obinna and he was interrogated alongside the two other apprentices after which Obinna confessed to the crime.
Before he was picked up, the native doctor was the one that called the father of the victim to negotiate the ransom payment of N50m before the boy could be released from their custody.
The father was asked to pay the ransom within 24 hours failure of which they would kill his kid. In the course of the negotiation, the kidnappers agreed to reduce the ransom to N10m.
The native doctor, who didn’t know that Obinna had confessed ,told the victim’s father where to drop the ransom and that if police were contacted, the victim would be beheaded.
While the negotiation was going on, the victim was reportedly locked up inside a shrine in the native doctor’s house built on a rock.
Sunday Vanguard gathered that following Obinna’s confession, detectives swooped on the native doctor’s hideout and picked up three members of the six-member kidnap gang.
Ondo State Police Commissioner Hilda Harrison said the suspects had confessed to the crime while the victim was rescued unhurt from the kidnappers’ den.
The police chief said one locally made pistol. one barreta pistol, some live ammunition and two live cartridges were recovered from the hideout.
Meanwhile, a cattle seller, Usman Momodu, 30, has been arrested with N112,000 cash suspected to be part of the ransom collected from the family of a traditional ruler in the state, Oba Daudu Sunday, the Oluyani of Iyani, in Akoko area of the state last month.
Also recovered from the suspect was a handset with the phone number allegedly used for negotiating the ransom.
Oba Daudu had been kidnapped by six armed men along Oba Akoko/Owo Road but released three days after his family paid a ransom. A ransom of N20m was requested but the family ended up paying N2m to secure his release.
The state Police Commissioner alleged that the cow seller was the leader of the gang that kidnapped the Oba.
She confirmed that the suspect had confessed to the crime along with others while efforts were on to arrest the fleeing members of the gang.