By Chinenyeh Ozor, Nsukka
T he mysterious disappearance of an Enugu State-born businessman based in Minna, Niger State, Chidiebere Didiugwu, 37, eight months ago, has continued to raise dust. In fact, anxiety, confusion and apprehension are common words expressed by indigenes of Umushere, Abbi Community in Uzo-Uwani Local Government Area, Enugu State, following the ugly incident. The business tycoon who embarked on a journey, last May 2015, to Kogi State, in an effort to collect debt allegedly owed him for over a year ago, reportedly disappeared into thin air. Concerted efforts made by his relations and friends to locate him either dead or alive have woefully failed.
However, efforts by the police in Niger State paid off early December 2015, with the arrest of two native doctors based in both Kogi and Enugu states. That of Kogi was arrested with his wife whom police suspect collaborated with her husband to perpetrate the evil act. Unfortunately, efforts made so far to extract information from the suspects over the whereabouts of the missing businessman have failed.
The younger brother to the missing businessman, Engr. Samuel Didiugwu who narrated their bitter experiences in a bid to locate their missing brother told Crime Guard that all they are pleading is for him to be found either dead or alive. His words: “We are begging these suspects to tell us where he is because it is obvious they met with him before he disappeared. If he is dead, let us bury him. If he is alive, let us help him.”
Giving a vivid account of their heart-rending story, he continued: “My brother left his house in Kaboji, Meshegu Local Government Area, Minna, Niger State, in the early hours of May 11, 2015, to Kogi State on a mission to collect certain amount of money owed him by one Danjuma Hassan. He met me at Katangora and informed me of his journey and assured that he would soon be back. Then around 7pm that same day, his wife put a call across to him to inform him that one of his apprentices was not feeling fine and to find out if he had got to his destination, to which he replied affirmatively, directing the wife to take the sick boy to the hospital, and that he would be back the following day.
“Then at about 8pm on that same day, his wife called his lines over seven times without response. Worried by the development, she was compelled to put calls across to other brothers and friends who equally started trying his lines to no avail. The following day, we continued while the mobile network provider said that the phone had been switched off. At that stage, it became obvious that something was wrong somewhere. We quickly held a meeting and started searching for him, lodged complaint at Niger State Police Command, Minna and equally reported the matter at Enugu State Police Anti-Kidnapping Squad. The police quickly swung into action as soon as the entry was made at Minna which yielded fruitful result but Chidiebere is yet to be found, even when police have arrested his alleged abductors.
“Then on May 17, 2015, I called his bosom friend Isaac, who hails from Nrobo, a neighbouring community to Abbi, both in Uzo-Uwani Local Government Area, Enugu State, to inquire from him if he had seen Chidiebere recently as both of them normally travelled to Kogi State together. I also inquired whether he was aware of anybody indebted to him in Kogi State. It was then he told me that one Danjuma was indebted to him but that he did not know the way to his (the Danjuma’s) house. Later, he called Danjuma but the man flared up, shouting that he was not Chidiebere’s keeper.”
Strange call to apprentice
Engr. Didiugwu, younger brother to the victim continued: “On May 20, 2015, our eldest brother Festus Didiugwu, called to inform me that one of his apprentices, Denis, said a private number called around 3.48pm, saying that Chidiebere was in the custody of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) in Abuja over a drug-related offence, but the caller refused to answer further questions nor to give Chidiebere the phone. The private number caller also told Denis that the drug officers might be coming to Minna for a search at the shop as Chidiebere is a patent medicine dealer.
“Later the next day, I reached out to Danjuma on phone with a different number as he had marked my number, and he picked the phone and told me that he was not owing my brother neither did he know his whereabouts, saying that he had relocated to Awka, Anambra State in February 2015, and that he last spoke with Chidiebere two months earlier.
Then on May 22, 2015, Danjuma called the same Denis again, saying that he did not know it was Mecassa (the nickname of Chidiebere) that was missing, and assured that he would commit his native doctor friend who specializes in seeing hidden things to trace him. He equally told Denis that Chidiebere was caught by his cult group for disobedience, beaten to pulp and his phones were collected so that he would not reach out to anybody. Upon these developments, we moved to mobile network providers and we were able to unravel the private number used in calling Denis. Equipped with this discovery, we proceeded to Niger State Police Command and informed them.”
Akanna, Nsukka native doctor connection
The younger Didiugwu continued: “On further interactions with Danjuma, he introduced a native doctor called Akanna who hails from Alor-Uno Community in Nsukka Local Government Area, Enugu State, and who told me and my cousin when we went to him that Chidiebere did not tell us the truth, that he embarked on a ritual trip, having tried it before but the deity in our place could not allow him succeed. Akanna stated that he was alive but a lot of incantations and sacrifices have to be made before he could be released. He asked us to provide a ram and a cash of N10,000 as a pledge for a cow which shall be provided when he is released. He gave four days for him to be released, yet nothing happened. It was later discovered that Akanna was the person that introduced Chidiebere to Danjuma at Ajaka, Kogi State, for the first time in life.”
Demand for ransom
The worried brother continued: “My elder brother Festus called and told me that he received a text message demanding N5m as ransom for the release of Chidiebere. The message read in part ‘Yamen, if you love your brother Godwin Didiugwu, you are bailing him with the sum of N5m. You are more than that; do that. Save my time; don’t tell anybody about this message. If you do, forget about your brother. Do not call this number. SMS is allowed.’
“While pondering on the text message, my cousin and my younger brother Christian, went back to Akanna, the native doctor who in turn told them that Chidiebere was dead.”
Niger State Police Command unveils the truth
The younger Didiugwu continued: “The Niger State Police Command spread its dragnet on intensive investigations, tracked down the private number that had earlier called Denis, claiming that Chidiebere was in the custody of NDLEA, Abuja. The police through discreet investigations discovered that the call was made at No. 44, Umuchi Road, Ajaka, Kogi State. The police was able to trace the private number to be the number of Danjuma’s wife.
When the line was called, Danjuma’s wife picked the call, but she later switched off the phone completely on the instructions of her husband, and who also instructed her to break the SIM card. But police was able to trace the woman after which her husband was arrested on December 2, 2015.
“The Nigeria Police did a very good job that needs to be commended, to have arrested Danjuma and his wife together with Akanna, the Nsukka native doctor. They are simply wonderful and thorough in their investigations. For the past eight months, we have been looking for our missing brother. The police were bent on getting to the root of the matter, tirelessly trotting from Minna to Kogi State weeks to months till they were able to strike the target and arrested the alleged perpetrators of the heinous crime. The police were also able to discover that both the number that demanded for ransom and the private number belonged to Danjuma and his wife. We are appealing that more need to be done as Chidiebere is still missing even when the three suspects have been arrested and remanded in prison custody.”