Yes, I did it because I needed money – Suspect
By Evelyn Usman
IT is not uncommon to find private drivers discussing in group at the Country Club, Ikeja, Lagos, on matters bothering round their personal lives, while their bosses are engaged in either official or social gathering inside. But one of such discussions recently resulted in the kidnap of a 71-year-old man, with the driver to the octogenarianÂ spearheading an issue that has assumed a worrisome dimension in the country.
Perhaps the last thing on Pa Eddie Ihieleâ€™s mind that fateful day was that he would be kidnapped , as he entered his chauffer driven car going back home.Â However, mid- way into the journey, the hitherto smooth drive took a different dimension, as he was soon driven to a strange apartment face-to-face-Â with his captors bargainingÂ his ransom for release.Â Â It then dawn on him that he had been kidnapped!
At the premises of the Lagos state public relations office on Ikeja GRA, where his captors were paraded before anxious journalists,Â Pa Eddie who was still in shock though grateful to God for sparing his life was yet to actually come to terms with the reality of his kidnap ordeal.
Kidnap and release
Narrating how he was kidnapped and later rescued,Â Pa Ihiele said,Â â€œOn that day, as we were going home, the driver stopped mid- way inside GRA and informed me that the car had developed a fault. He then went down to see if he could effect the repair. While on it, some people just sprang out from no where and attempted to help the driver but I told them not to worry that he could handle it. But their next action took me by surprise as they bounced on the driver and instructed us to enter inside the car. At that point I thought they could be robbers and kept my cool. I even begged them not to hurt the driver , promising to give them whatever they wanted.
The next place we were taken to was an apartment I did not even know which area it was situated until later. It was in that apartment that I was made to understand that I had been kidnapped.
Thereafter, they collected my GSM phone and contacted my son informing him that they had kidnapped his father and would only be released at the payment of a N5m ransom.Â Â One of them even attempted to collect my necklace with cross- but I warned him not to because it would work against him. I believe he was scared and left it.
We eventually settled for N200,000, following which I told them I had a cheque with which to issueÂ the amount. One of them suggested that I wrote the cheque in my driverâ€™s name , that they would go with him to withdraw the money. That they did and I was released the next day being Saturdayâ€
If Pa Eddie was shocked at the doggedness of his captors the main shocker came when he was invited by the police where it was revealed that the mastermind of his kidnap was no other person than his driver who he cherished like his own son.
Hear him, â€œ Shola Aluko has been working for me in the last one year. Aside the fact that I pay him N20, 000 every month, I rented him an apartment at Obbey street in Ipaja area of Lagos and also foot the bill of his childâ€™s naming ceremony recently. I also give him at least N500 on a daily basis to eat. What more can one do for a driver who has become like my own child.?â€Â Pa Ihiele did not end his shock without a word of advice for the general public saying, â€œFrom what has happened to me, everybody should be careful and should go the extra mile to investigate any driver we want to employ.Â Otherwise, people will continue to fall victim like I did.â€
On his part, the 25-year-old Shola, who all the while buried his head between his legs later manage to raise it up and muttered,Â â€œ I am so ashamed of my self. It is the devilâ€™s handiwork. I actually masterminded the kidnap of my boss.
When I and my colleagues who are also private drivers sat last week discussing while waiting for our ogas , I told them I was in dire need of money , and at that point one ofÂ them asked if my boss usually gives me money anytime I requested , and I said no. It was then that another person suggested that we should kidnap him and call his children to give us money, out of which I could use to settle my problem..
After we agreed , another driver said he would contact some people that would help us perpetrate the act. That was how I pretended as if the car was faulted when I got to where we agreed the men would be waiting for us.Â The beating they gave to me was to avoid being suspectedâ€
Confusion in sharing formula and police arrest
With the deed completed and the ransom of N200,000 paid, the perpetrators apparently thought it was a good business.Â But they were soon to discover the reverse as the sharing formula generated a heated argument amongst them. . Some of them including the driver felt they were short-changed.. For instance, it was gathered that those who played prominent roles in the kidnap saga should take lion share.Â Â During the argument, one of them who felt cheated, reportedly went and called in the police.
Continuing, Shola stated, â€œ And to think that my share in the whole deal was just N21,000. was unbelievable.Â And again, we never knew that one of us had gone to call the police while the argument was on; that was how we were all rounded up.Â Aah!, I have really bitten the finger that fed meâ€
Reacting, the state police public relations officer, Mr. Frank Mba having listened to rather fairy tales of seven of the suspects involved in the crime said the law would take its full course.Â He describedÂ kidnapping as a grave criminal activity which should be swept under the carpet.Â He assured that the suspects would be arraigned in any court of competent jurisdiction shortly after investigations.