ByÂ Evelyn Usman
The entire Jimoh Forumu Street in Ilasamaja area of Lagos was thrown into confusion on March 15, 2010, following the sudden disappearance of a three-and-half -year-old boy popularly called Likky.
It was gathered that Likky was picked up that fateful day by an unidentified lady while on his way home from school in the company of another boy called Gideon.
The unidentified woman reportedly told the older Gideon that Likkyâ€™s mother directed her to bring him to a social gathering.Â However on arriving home, Gideon discovered that it was only a bait to kidnap the innocent child.
However, while frantic search for Likky was in progress, his mother, Mrs Okerinde reportedly received a text on her mail, followed by a telephone call where the caller demanded for a ransom of N800,000 for the release of their first child.
But as you read this piece, three persons have been arrested by the Police in Lagos and the child rescued in a hideout in Ikorodu, anÂ outskirt ofÂ Lagos.
Surprisingly, the master-mind of the kidnap turned out to be the same lady that picked up Likky on his way home.Â She was identified as Nkechinyere Madu, a 20-year-old indigene of Mmaku village in Enugu state.
Preliminary investigations conducted by detectives at the Anti-Human Trafficking section at the Bariga Police station revealed that Nkechinyere was brought from her village by an uncle, one Sunday Madu, andÂ she started a trade. Unfortunately, she was swindled inside Trade Fair market in 2006, shortly after the demise of her uncle.
However, when the fair-complexioned lady opened up, she kept everyone spell bound.Â SheÂ revealedÂ that she had an affair with the childâ€™s father who promised to rent her an apartment or give her the monetary equivalent of N400,000. The clandestine relationship said to have started January this year,Â unfortunately went sour according to her, without the man fulfilling his promise of renting an apartment for her.
Hear her, â€œ After having what he wanted, he abandoned me andÂ anytime I called him on the phone, he would tell me to go to blazes that he does not know me. Even when I threatened to tell his wife, he dared me to go ahead. That was why I decided to kidnap his child . I got to know the childâ€™s school because when we were going out, he told me and even gave me his wifeâ€™s number.
So on that day , I waited until the child closed from school and collected him from the boy that usually picked him from school, saying the mother sent me.
â€œI thereafter, took the child to aÂ friendâ€™s place at Bariga, from where I put a call to his father that except he paid me the promised money, he would not see his son again. I also sent his wife a text message informing her that the husband knew more about their missing son.Â Â I stayed with my friend in Bariga for one week and left because she told me she could not harbour the child and myself in her family houseâ€
Police sources said the ladyâ€™s determination to carry out her revenge mission made her relocate to an hotel, Ultimate Hotel, in the same neighbourhood where she stood outsideÂ with the child until a good Samaritan in the person of the hotel manager came and took them in.Â She was later found with the kidnapped boy in the hotel managerâ€™s Ikorodu abode.
Asked how that came to be, the hotel manager, Mr David Nsa, said, â€œ Out of curiosity, I asked her what she was doing at the hotel and she said she was waiting for someone. After several hours, she was still there and when I told her to confide in me, she said she was thrown out of her apartment by her landlord because of house rent palaver.
I allowed her to pass the night at the hotel because of the baby she was carrying.Â Â The next day, out of pity, coupled with the fact that she said she was waiting for a relative to send her money, I asked her to go and stay in my Ikorodu abode simply because I felt for the baby. During her stay, I even bought the child clothes because she did not come with any clothes. I was so surprised when some policemen came and said the child was kidnappedâ€.
But in a sharp reaction to her claim, father of the child, denied knowing Nkechinyere, let alone having an affair with her. He claimed to have been called from his Ilupeju place of work by the wife informing him of the sudden disappearance of the child.
According to 25 -year-old Akeem Okerinde, â€œ I do not know her and have never set my eyes on her. I was only called by my wife on March 15, 2010 that our son was missing. On reaching home, she got a text message on her phone which read, â€˜My name is Emmanuel Ojiefor from Edo state. I sent my friend to Adegbola Street to pick your son because you are owing me N800,000. If you know you want to see your son, then pay me my moneyâ€™.Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â â€œWhy did she have to send the text to my wife if indeed I had a relationship with her?â€, Mr Okerinde asked , without showing any emotion.
At this juncture, a mild drama played itself out.Â Nkechinyere shouted from where she was seated, â€œ he is lying because his wife is here. This man is the worst liar I have come across in life. At first he told me his name was Vintus. It was not until I got to the police station that I got to know his real name. He slept with me thrice at different hotels in Isolo area, promising he would rent an apartment where he would be coming to see me. Please ask him how I got both his phone number and that of his wife including knowingÂ his sonâ€™s school if I never had anything to do with him?â€.
Asked what she intended doing with the money had the promise been kept, she said she intended using it to start life afresh. Also asked how she came in contact with the third suspect, Martins Nwoke, she revealed that she met him in the first place she hid the child in Bariga.
Corroborating this claim, 23-year-old Martin said, â€œ I never knew anything about this kidnap saga. All she told me was that she was expecting an unspecified amount of money from her sister abroad and that she did not have an account where the money would be deposited.Â At first, I hesitated but after much pressure from her and a good friend of mine, Michael, I gave her my account number. She did not even promise she was going to pay me anything .
â€œI was so shocked when some policemen came to my house to effect my arrest two weeks ago, during which I was asked whether I was expecting money from anyone. That was when I told them all I knew. I have no hand in this. I am just a victim of circumstanceâ€, he stated.
Spokesman for the Lagos State Police Command, Mr Frank Mba advised that parents, particularly mothers,Â should always endeavour to personally pick their wards from schools. In the alternative, he advised parents to always identify designated persons that will pick their wards to the school authorities in order to avoid such embarrassment.
He also warned individuals with similar tendencies to either discard the idea or leave the state in peace saying, â€œ the command is not only poised at fighting criminals but nipping in the bud, activities of kidnappers as wellâ€.