By Ifeanyi Okolie
As he lay on a twin- size mattress in one of the rooms at the three bedroom apartment in Suleja, an outskirt of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, where he was kept by his abductors, on Sunday March 26, 2017, 67-year-old, Alhaji Isa Ozi Salami, had no inkling that the police had launched a massive operation to rescue him.
Time was 4: am, when a combined team of operatives from the Inspector- General of Police Special Intelligence Response Team, IRT, and their counterparts at the Anti-Kidnapping Unit of the Abuja Police Command, deployed to track and rescue Alhaji Salami, the Chairman of Gateway Insurance and a former Chairman of Peugeot Automobile of Nigeria, kidnapped on Tuesday March 21, 2017, at Maitama area of Abuja. They busted into the room and found him lying helplessly.
The operatives, who were led by ACP Abba Kyari, quickly assured that they were policemen who had come to rescue him. The visibly shocked man could not contain his joy as his kidnappers had vowed to keep him in their custody until his relatives pay the complete amount they demanded as ransom.
He was moved swiftly to the Force Headquarters Abuja, where he reunited with members of his family. The IRT operatives didn’t stop at his rescue; they went all out for his kidnappers, who they said were members of a notorious gang that has been terrorizing the FCT for a long time. 11 suspects including three ex-convicts and a dismissed official of the Department of State Security, DSS, were all rounded up. An Ak47 rifle, two pistols and a loaded magazine were all recovered in the five-day operation.
Ex-convicts as suspects
Source disclosed that the leader of the gang identified as Emeka Kelvin, was earlier arrested and charged to court for kidnapping in July 2016. He was arrested in a forest in Lafia area of Nasarrawa State, where he had gone to collect the balance of the ransom.
The Force Public Relations Officer, Jimoh Moshod, while parading the suspects before newsmen at the Force Headquarters Abuja, gave their identities as Emeka Kelvin, gang leader, Ndubisi Prince Ozor, second in command, Abdulrasheed Maigari, dismissed DSS official, who provided technical and logistics assistance to the gang. This included the provision of apartments used as den where kidnappers keep their victims. He further identified the other suspects as; Sunday Tyavnor, who he described as the gang’s arms dealer that sold the AK47 rifle which was used for the kidnappings at the rate of N470,000 and two pistols for N60,000. Zayor Alfred, who specialized in guarding the kidnapped victims, was arrested in the camp where the victim was rescued. “Avah Joseph from Ogbadibo Local Government Area Benue State, who was also a guard, was arrested in a follow up operation in the camp. Gabriel Friday and Rajab Baba Ishiaku, Ali Sani, Nuhu Sule and 21-year-old Mohammed Abubakar, a native of Mokwa Local Government Area of Niger State, said to be the supplier of registered sim cards to the kidnappers, were all apprehended during the operation.”
Suspects open up
When Crime Guard interviewed the suspects, the leader of the gang, Kelvin, a graduate of economics at the Imo State University, disclosed that his quest to further his education abroad led him into crime. The 28-year-old, who is a native of Awgu in Enugu State, stated; “I graduated in 2010 and worked for two years in Onitsha, Anambra State. Then I went to Port-Harcourt and worked briefly with an oil servicing company till early 2015 when I started nursing the ambition of travelling abroad to study for masters in applied economics and politics. I then started looking for ways to raise funds in addition to what I had saved and in the process; I squandered all the money I had. I couldn’t raise funds but I was losing the one I had. I became frustrated and started having negative thoughts.
I met Paul at Enugu stadium during a match and from there we became friends. He later told me that he was into kidnapping and he had also lived in Abuja for a long time.
He introduced me into kidnapping. In our first job, we kidnapped one Miss Ngozi in Maitama area of Abuja. We accosted her while she was sitting in the back seat of her car. We were four: Olawole, Matthew, Paul and myself, went for that operation. We took her to Sokoto state.
She spent two days with us and N7million was paid for her release. The money was dropped in Kaduna State and on the point of going to release her, we had an accident and the money we had on us splashed on the road. The police were alerted and they started asking questions and took us to the police station. Our victim became unconscious and was rushed to the hospital. The police then discovered that the money was proceeds from kidnapping and we were transferred to Abuja from where we were charged to court and remanded in prison. In December 9, 2016, I was released and I went back to my village. In January 2017, I went back to Abuja and I saw Abdul, who I met in 2008 in an NYSC camp in Edo State.
My friend Ndubusi who I meet in prison came out in February and we started nursing the ambition of kidnapping. Abdul then told me that he was dismissed by the Department of State Security, DSS, and when we were ready, they brought other people involved in the gang. We then kidnapped two women in Gwanrimpa area, we spotted them in a vehicle and we took them to Suleja. Ndubusi negotiated with their family. N2.7million was eventually paid and the money was dropped along Kaduna road. I was given N500, 000, while others got money too.
Abdul rented the apartment in Suleja where we kept the women. Ten days later, we went for another operation and kidnapped a man and his wife in Gwarinkpa. We kept them in the same house and a ransom of N3.5milion was paid for their release. Money was dropped at the same spot along Kaduna road. I was given N500, 000. The third operation turned out to be our last operation. We picked up the man in Maitama and took him to another rented apartment close to the former house. We contacted the family and demanded for N10million. We later brought it down to N8million and they paid N2.8milliom and promised to pay the balance on Monday, but before then, the police arrested one of our gang members and he led them to the house where we kept the man and they rescued him. I was arrested in Lafia, Nassarawa State making efforts to collect the N3million balance when the bubble burst,” he lamented.
My master refused to settle me
The second in command, Uzor told Crime Guard during that he was forced into crime in 2015, after the man he served for 10 years refused to settle him. The Abia state- born suspect said; “I came to Abuja in year 2000 after my secondary school and I served my boss for 10 years but he didn’t settle me as we agreed. I was hustling on the streets when I met Sunny, an Edo man who normally comes to buy cloths in our market in Gariki. Sunny usually gives good tips whenever he comes to the market and one day, I told him to get me a job.
He asked if I was ready to work and I assured him that I would do anything that would pull me out of poverty. He then told me that he was into car snatching and asked that I join him. We robbed three cars together within Gwarimpa area of Abuja and he sold them to his buyers. I don’t know how much he sold the cars, but he gave me N150, 000 after selling each car. In February 2016, he was arrested when he went to deliver a stolen car to one of his buyers and he led the police to me and I was arrested and taken to State Anti-Robbery Squad, SARS.
While in detention, I met Emeka, we became friends and I was charged to court and remanded in Kefi prison in Nassarawa State. I spent three months at the prison before I was granted bail and released. One day I ran into Emeka in Apo and we became friends again. Two weeks after, he called and told me that he was setting up a kidnap gang and he had completed all arraignment. I joined him and we went for operations, where
I got N300, 000 and N500, 000 in two operations while in the third, I was arrested. Emeka was the overall boss who had advanced experience in kidnapping, while the ex-DSS operative was coordinating and supervising all our operations. He did not go out with us but he looked after the victims and made sure they were safe. On the day I was arrested, we had a man in our custody. We kidnapped him in Maitama and demanded the sum of N10million and his family paid N2.8million to us. Emeka refused to share the money and he asked us not to release the man to his family. He then left the hotel with N2.1million and said he was going to keep it until the family paid the balance of N5million. When the police came, rescued the man and arrested the DSS guy, he brought them to the hotel where I was and I was arrested. I was then used to track Emeka in a bush in Mafia where he wanted to collect balance of the ransom,” he narrated.
We stole government fund
The Ex-DSS personal, Abdulrasheed Maigari, on his part revealed how he and some army officers posted to the home of the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, in Maitama, stole the sum of N310million. He explained that the money was brought into the house in three vehicles around 1: am on the day of the incident and that an army captain who was on ground ordered they should dispossess the drivers of the cars that brought the money of what they brought.
The 35-year -old suspect who is a graduate of Political Science from Ado Bayero University, Kano, told Crime Guard that he got N30million from the heist. According to him; “I was enlisted into the DSS 2011 with the rank of a Senior Intelligence Officer 1. I served in operations department at Gombe and Osun Commands of the DSS before my dismissal in 2015. Before I was dismissed, I was posted to the home of the Senate President, Bukola Saraki in Maitama and in November 2015, I can’t recall the exact date, three vehicles brought in the N310 million into the compound and the Army Captain who was on ground that day ordered that we should take the money away because he suspected the money was government money which could have been wrongly appropriated and could, therefore, be taken. We were four DSS operatives and four army officers involved and we drove the three cars to a house in Suleja where the money was shared. I got N30million and I bought a car and took it to Kaduna State where I hid the rest of my share. I came back to Abuja, but on November 28, 2015, I was asked to report at DSS Headquarters and when I got there, I was interrogated over the theft and detained for five months, dismissed and charged to court. I was remanded in Kuje Prison, where I eventually fell ill after seven months. I was very sick and I was granted bail by the court on health grounds.
When I came out, I had no job, I was just wondering. I couldn’t go home. In January 2017, I ran into Emeka, who I knew during my Youth Service days in Edo State. He was in car when he saw me walking and he alighted and called me. He asked what I was doing and I told him that I was dismissed from the DSS and I just got out of prison, then he told me he had a plan and he would contact me at the right time. We exchanged numbers and by first week of February, he called and asked me to rent an apartment for him in Suleja. I rented it for N250, 000 and I also bought a small mattress and fan for him.
The next day, he brought two women to the house and kept them for five days. One of the women fell sick and I bought drugs for her. When they were released, he gave me N300, 000 and he gave the boys I brought, N100, 000 each. I rented that apartment for one year and the other flats in the building were vacant, but after our second operation where we kidnapped a man and his wife in Gwarimpa and I got N500, 000, two people came into the compound and rented the other apartments. That place immediately became unsafe for us and we relocated to another building not too far from the first one. Then they kidnapped the man which led to our arrest. The man was with us five days and N2.8million was paid by his family. Emeka was greedy and refused to release the man but the police trailed and arrested all of us involved, “he lamented.