By Ifeanyi Okolie
Barely one month ago, a business talk between a Saudi Arabian Businessman, Alhaji Alsamid Hamzad Saleh whose intention was to invest in his country and a supposed Nigerian facilitator simply named Steve could best be described as cordial.
But little did the unsuspecting foreigner know that he was merely playing into the lion’s den. The business deal were just a ploy to lure him into country and subsequently got him kidnapped. In the mean time, the Nigerian had successfully convinced the Saudi Arabian who was reportedly introduced to him by his elder brother.
They were said to have talked for more than four weeks during which he eventually agreed to fly into country and sign a memorandum of understating with his Nigerian partner regarding the business deal. During the business discussion, Crime Alert was told that the offer sounded so good and promising so much so that the foreigner was left with other option than to give in.
He promptly flew into the country, aboard a Turkish airline flight on October 2, 2011 and upon arrival at the Murtala Muhammad International Airport Lagos, the Nigerian partner was on on hand to receive him. But the whole story took a twisted dimension after the foreigner later discovered that he was being kidnapped rather go straight to append signatures to papers.
Like a holly movie, Alsamid was stunned when he was dragged into a waiting car by gun bearing men at the car lot of the MMIA, from where they zoomed off to an unknown destination in Ogun State.
On arriving their destination, the victim’s bags were ransacked, five thousand dollars bills, ten mobile phones an ipad and his wrist watch were taken from him. Afterwards, his captors forced him to contact his family in Saudi Arabia and a ransom for 150 million Euros was demanded.
“It was a traumatic ordeal in the hands of my captors when they started demanding for ransom, ” he told Crime Alert after his release last Saturday. Continuing he said, “ A barrette pistol was placed on my head and they scream very loud at my ears in order to terrify me and make me plead furiously with my family to pay the ransom quickly”.
Meanwhile, after two days of the psychological trauma in the hands of his captors and fruitless negotiation, the Saudi Arabian Embassy in Nigeria was contacted which subsubsequently alerted the police at the airport command.
The Commissioner of Police CP in charge of the airport, Akila Usman Gwari told Crime Alert that a crack team of operatives from the Command’s Criminal Investigations Department were drafted to take over the investigation and a manhunt was promptly launched.
“ We traced them down to a location at Atiba village, Odogbolu, Ogun state where the foreigner was kept. There, we met two girls and two boys who were watching over him and we rescued him with any resistance. The four people who were found around him were arrested and they are now in now custody”.
Explaining how the police got information about the kidnapped Saudi Arabian, the CP said, “We received a call on October 4, 2011 from the Saudi Arabian Embassy in Nigeria with a complaint that one Saudi Arabia was invited by some Nigerian businessmen and he was kidnapped in the process.
The name of the man who invited him was only given as Steve but the surname was unknown. They explained that the Steve took this man to unknown destination from where they started demanding for 150 million Euro ransom. I directed the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) to investigate the case and for three days they searched all nook and cranny and later found him.”
The CP gave the names of the suspects as Fumilola Felix, Endurance Felix, Lucky Felix and Chika Nwogwugwu, and he also said a barrette pistol with 28 rounds of 29mm life ammunition which they used to scare the victim to get him to cooperate and get his people to pay the demanded money was recovered from the suspects.
He explained that investigation into the matter was still ongoing and warned the general public, especially foreigners to always report their mission including addresses to their embassies or any security agency the moment they arrived the country.
“The main purpose of inviting you here is to advise the public through your media; to advise foreigners and the general public that all foreigners coming into this country should contact their embassies to verify certain information or contact the security agencies.
This man came into Nigeria without notifying their embassy and did not contact any of the security agencies. So it was very easy for them to take him away,” the CP said.
But Alsamid told Crime Alert that he was not disappointed by the ugly experience stressing that he would be discouraged to visit the country again. “I love the country and love the hospitality accorded me since I was rescued.
Though my experience in the hands of those mafias were not funny but that does not mean that everyone is bad. This is actually my first time of visiting this country and in my country I was told that Lagos is filled with mafias but Abuja is better, but I thought I was dealing with a descent business man that was why I came down.
I knew this Steve through my brother and he said he wants to invest in Saudi Arabia and he would wants me to assist him in getting his papers and other necessary clearance he would need from my government. He even said that he would prefer if I register the names of the company in my name and then I told no, that he could do them in his name since his not a criminal and that I could help him facilitate it.
He said he wanted to set up and a five star hotel and a shopping mall Riyadh and many other things and I believed him. I thought he was descent, I never knew he was a mafia. I thank God I am free and I thank the Nigeria Police for rescuing me safely”.