By Ifeanyi Okolie & Oghene Omonisa
In January 2013, a four-year-old boy, Alonge Oluwa Tumishe, was abducted on his way to school at Ishaga area of Lagos State, by a five-man kidnap gang, who took him to Abeokuta, Ogun State and received a ransom of N5 million before he was released. Relatives of the victim, who were said to be owners of a popular school within Ishaga, were thrown into confusion following the incident and have been forced into reclusive lifestyle to prevent a repeat of the incident. Meanwhile, police authorities, yesterday, disclosed that its operatives at the Inspector General of Police Special Intelligence Response Team, SIRT, trailed the suspects to their hideouts in Ishaga, Agege and Egbeda areas of Lagos State, and arrested three of them.They also recovered also recovered a locally made gun, while two other members of the gang are currently at large.
Urgent need for cash
The suspects who identified themselves as Paul Ibara, Ifeanyi Obi and Tunde Edu, confessed during an interview that poverty pushed them into crime. Two of the suspects, Edu and Obi also disclosed that Ibara, who usually identified himself as Mopol lured them into the gang. The 36-year-old Ibara, a native of Akwa-Ibom State told Crime Guard that he went into crime because he wanted to save his father, who he said was diagnosed with prostate cancer.”I live with my wife and children at Ishaga. I went into crime because my father was sick.
He had prostate cancer. I was in Maiduguri, when he fell sick and I took excuse and came back to see him. When I saw him, his condition was very bad and the doctors wanted to do a surgery on him. The hospital at Uyo demanded N450,000 but they could not do it and they referred us to a hospital in Ghana where they demanded N800,000.
“Since I just came back from Maiduguri, I had no money. Then I started thinking of how to raise money. I thought of a rich man in my area who had a very big school and planned on how to kidnap his son. “Tunde Edun, who is also known as Otunba, is a very popular person in our area, and used to visit my wife’s shop and there was a time he told me that he was broke and was looking for money to pay his children’s school fees. When I briefed him about my plans, he told me that he was interested but he wanted to be sure if the man had money. I also invited two of my friends, Victor and Yellow from Abia State, who I knew during political rallies.
“I asked Victor to come with two registered SIM cards which we would use to communicate with the victim’s relatives. I also contacted one of my friends, Ifeanyi Obi, who sells spare parts at Ladipo Market, and that he would provide the vehicle we would use for the operation. “Victor brought a gun, and Otunba also brought a gun he said belonged to his father. A day before we kidnapped the boy, we met in my wife’s shop and we concluded our plans. I told them I would be the one to monitor the boy’s movement, while they would abduct him. The next day, when the boy was on his way to school, I called and informed them and they kidnapped him at the entrance of our street. They took him to Abeokuta and they kept him in Tunde Edun’s father’s house.
“I got the man’s number from a student that attends his school and I demanded N10 million. The man told me that he did not have such money and he paid us N5 million after four days and we picked the money along Abeokuta Road. “We asked the man to put on his rear lights and when we saw the vehicle, we asked him to drop the money by the side of the road. We also released the boy that night and we shared the money. We all got N1 million each and I sent N700,000 to my father and the surgery was conducted successfully. Last month, Ifeanyi called me and when I met him, he brought the police and I was arrested.”
‘My friend lured me into kidnapping’
Another suspect who is a native of Abeokuta and who is also married with two children, blamed Ibara for getting him involved in crime. According to him, “I am a club bouncer and I reside at Agege. I have a national diploma in Estate Management from Moshood Abiola Polytechnic. It was Paul that invited me for the job. I had approached him in the past and told him that I wanted a job and I asked him to assist me. Two weeks later, he called me and said someone was owing him money and I should assist him arrest the person’s child and when the person pays him he would give me my percentage. He told me that we needed a gun for the operation and I told him that my father had a gun.
“I went to our home town and took my father’s gun. On the day of the operation, I was in the car with Ifeanyi and the two guys Paul invited, and we stopped the car that was taking the boy to school with my gun and kidnapped him. We then took him to my father’s house before the ransom was paid. I rented an apartment with my share of the percentage and I also paid my children school fees. “After that operation, I stopped seeing Paul and Ifeanyi. I was arrested at a fillings station where I was controlling crowd. I don’t know that what I did was kidnapping, I was only trying to assist a friend.”
‘Fashola forced me into crime’
But 32-year-old Ifeanyi Obi, who is a native of Abia State, said the former Lagos State Governor Babatunde Fashola, pushed him into crime. Obi stated that his shop at Ladipo Spare Parts Market was demolished by the Fashola government in 2012, and he became frustrated. He lamented that his frustration led him to Paul who eventually led him to kidnapping. “I am not married. I came to Lagos in 2008. I am not educated. I am from a very poor family. After serving my boss for seven years at Ladipo, my boss settled me with his shop and some money. From there, I started doing my own business.
“On December 28, 2012 I was at my village and I got news that former Lagos State Governor, Babatunde Fashola had broken our shops. When I returned to Lagos, I couldn’t find any of my goods. A few days later, one of my customers called me to bring a spare part for him at Abattoir, opposite an RRS base from where he took me to the shop of a Mopol man’s wife and he introduced him to me and we became friends. I told him that I wanted to sell my SUV and I needed money to start afresh and that I had lost all my money in my shop when it was demolished because I stocked my shop before travelling for Christmas. He told me that there was job that would pay me good money. He told me that the man was very rich and would easily pay. After the ransom was paid, I was given N700,000 as my share.”