By Ifeanyi Okolie
Barely 48 hours after three female students of Babington Macaulay Junior Seminary School in Ikorodu regained freedom from captivity, Crime Guard gathered that operatives of the Inspector General of Police Intelligence Response Team, IRT, swooped on three more members of the gang, bringing the total number of suspects arrested to six.
It was gathered that the IRT operatives, trailed two of the suspects, Wekemei Godfrey 28, a native of Arogbo, Ondo State and Priye Pius Gift 26, from Ovia South LGA of Ondo State in Mosebolatan Guest House, Ibafo Ogun State.
Sources disclosed that a girlfriend to one of kidnappers led the operatives to her boyfriend who was lodged in the hotel when he left the creek in Ikorodu which was used as their den. It was further gathered that during interrogations, the suspects gave police information that assisted them in arresting another top member of the gang identified as Omoni Fred Rufus, 32, a native of Ese Odo Local Government Area of Ondo State at Sango Ota area of Lagos. Crime Guard gathered that while acting on the information obtained from the first two suspects, an auto mechanic working for Rufus was arrested at Ladipo Spare Part Market and he was used to lure Rufus to the point where he was arrested.
When Crime Guard interviewed the suspects, Rufus narrated his role in the kidnap saga.
According to him,” I am Omoni Fred Rufus, from Ese Odo Local Government Area of Ondo State. I am 32 years old and I finished from secondary school in 2002, and I went into sawmill business. I was born in Ibuju Lekki area of Lagos State and my father is a wood logger while my mother sells fish. I sell most of my woods at Ebute-Meta and I have never done anything criminal until last January. “One of my friends, known as Bamidele, called me and said he had a job for me. He was arrested last year and was charged to court for kidnapping and remanded in Ogun State prison.
When he was released in January, he called me and said that one of his friends whom he said he met in prison called and told him that he had a job for him. He said he wanted me to be part of the operation because I had a car. I asked him what kind of job and he told that it was kidnapping and that his friend whom he identified as Gay, would like to meet us so we would plan the operation. When we met Gay he told us that the man we were to kidnap was very rich and he was going to bring three more boys who would assist us. Gay explained that he was going to monitor the man’s movement and then he would alert us. The next day, I was with Bamidele and Gay came with the boys and later left, but some few hours later, he called and gave us the description of the man’s car and his location, and when we sighted the car matching the description, we double crossed the car and abducted the man. We took the man in my car into a forest by the Lagos Ibadan Expressway and I left him with Bamidele and others and went home.
Four days after, Bamidele called me and said that the man had been released and the sum of N2.5 million was paid as ransom. He told me that my share was N200, 000 and I should meet him at Ikorodu for the money.
I was at Ibeju Lekki when he called and l left what I was doing and hurried to Ikorodu and I met him in a fast food joint. He was with someone when I came in and that person introduced himself as Tradition. He is also from my home town in Arugbo, just like Bamidele. I gave him N1000 from my share of the ransom and he took my phone number and promised to call me.
Two weeks ago he called me that they had a kidnapping job and that it would not be stressful and it would fetch just huge sum of money. I asked him how much should I be looking at and he said, I could likely get N5 million as my share if we succeeded. My car had gearbox issues and I took it for repairs at Ladipo Spare Part Market, in Musihin and I took commercial bus to Ikorodu.
When I met Tradition, he took me to Lamienmu whom he said brought the job and we met him and nine others on the Imota Bridge. They took me to the bush where they said we would keep the victims and I wasn’t pleased with the arraignment. There was nothing on ground and Lamienmu begged that we should bear with him.
From that point we moved to the school in four speed boats. Those who had guns came from the creek in Fatola and when we got to the school, they tradition and Lamienmu, entered the school, while we stood by the fence waiting. When they brought one of the girls, I carried her into our boat and stayed with her. Others came later with the two other girls and when we went into the creek, we made wooden rafts for the girls to sleep and I slept inside one of the boats.
The guys with the guns were on guard all through. The next, Lamienmu and Tradition interrogated the girls. One of them told us that her father was an engineer, while another told us that her father was a pastor. We took their parents phone numbers from them and Tradition and Lamienmu called them and demanded N200 million as ransom.
After that the girls told us that they were hungry and we asked what they wanted to eat and they told us that they wanted Viju Milk, Lacasera and Indomine. Lamienmu’s younger brother, Gideon was asked to go to town and get them. He went and came back safely, but three days later when the things he bought got finished, he went into town and came back with the news that policemen were everywhere looking for the girls.
The camp became apprehensive with that news and we started contemplating of how to release the girls quietly. At this time, we had reduced our demand to N30million. By Saturday, we saw Lamienmu’s father creeping into the camp. The guys with guns almost fired him and he yelled that he was Lamienmu and he was allowed to come and he told us that the police had arrested his wife, Lamienmu’s sister and Tradition’s wife as well. Lamienmu insisted that we must release the girls or he will kill himself. When he left, the camp was thrown into confusion and when it settled we all agreed that we should allow the girls to go and by 5am Sunday, Tradition and four others took the girls out of the camp and dropped them off. I waited till the next day before leaving the camp and when I came out, I went to Ladipo and checked the mechanic who was working on my car. I gave him some money and I went back into the creek. I had this feelings that the police were looking for me.
By Thursday the mechanic called and said he had finished my car. Then I decided to pick it and drive out of Lagos. When I got to Ladipo, I didn’t see the mechanic and I called him and he said, he was at Iyano Ipaja, washing the car. When I got there, the police showed up and arrested me and accused me of being part of the gang that abducted the school girls.
At a time, I met Priye Pius and Tradition and since we were all from the same town we became friends.
After a while Tradition left us and went to Lagos while, Pius and I continued our business. Early last year, we started having issues with some militants while crossing into Cameron. The militants were demanding so much money and when we didn’t give it to them, they normally destroyed our goods. Things went bad.
Luckily, Tradition came and told us that fuel business was fetching him serious money in Arepo, that we should come and join him. We immediately followed him to Lagos and he bought 100 pieces of 50 liter jerry cans for the both of us and we started going into the creek to fetch petrol from the pipeline. We normally pay the vandals controlling the line between N5000 and N10000 and they would allow us to load our jerry cans.
After that we would take the jerry cans to the shore and sell them to Tradition who would sell to other people. We did this business until there was massive explosion at the site that killed so many people. Pius and I were just lucky. On the night of the incident, we decided to take a little rest from work and by 2am we heard the massive explosion. By morning when the fire died down, I went into the creek and assisted in the burial of those who were killed. I had a rethink of that business because of what I saw.
Three weeks ago, Tradition came to our place here in Majidun and told us that he wanted us to take part in a kidnapping business. I told him that I wasn’t interested because I had no one to help me if arrested. He mounted pressure but we still refused and he went to do the job with some other guys and they didn’t succeed.
He came to us again and said that the reason why they didn’t succeed was because they didn’t have enough manpower. He told us that the business was going to fetch us good money and because we were his friends, he would want us to take part in it. I accepted reluctantly and by evening of the day we were to go for the operation, I told my girl friend that I was going to spend some time with some of my brothers. Pius and I met Tradition at the agreed spot, and we went to the creek and from there we drove to the school in three speed boats.
Pius and I stood by the fence watching for any one approaching. After they had abducted the girls and taken them to the forest, Pius and I prepared raft which they slept on and we were the ones taking them to ease themselves whenever they were pressed.
Ask the girls, they would tell you that Pius and I were very nice to them. We were also part of the team that went to drop them. We took them under the bridge and asked them to climb on the bridge and seek help. When we left the camp, I called my girl friend to be careful that I have done something nasty and she should watch her movement because the police may be coming. I asked her to meet me at the hotel where I lodged in Ogun State because I thought it would be difficult for the police in Lagos to trace us down to that place. But I didn’t know how they arrested my girlfriend and she brought them to the hotel where I was lodged and they arrested the both of us.”