By Kingsley Omonobi & Evelyn Usman
A kidnap suspect has said his gang members prefer to collect ransom in American dollars because it is less bulky to move huge sums around in Dollars.
The suspect belonged to a new kidnap syndicate, which collects ransoms only in American Dollars and was smashed in Abia State by operatives of the Inspector-General of Police Intelligence Response Team, with the arrest of five suspected members of its gang.
The suspects confessed to be responsible for the abduction of an 80-year-old man, Mr. Felix Ogbonna, on November 26 in Abia State. The octogenarian was subsequently released after ransom was paid.
They also confessed to have formed the gang this month in the state, disclosing that they had abducted three persons with N7.5 million collected as ransom for their release.
‘I got N3m from the last operation’
The gang’s second-in-command, Samuel James, aged 29, whose operational name is Chiboy, told operatives that his share from the ransom for the last victim was N3 million, adding that their targets were mainly those driving posh cars.
The 29-year-old suspect further disclosed that his role is to drive the gang’s operations vehicle.
He confessed: “After driving victims in our Lexus SUV from the kidnap point to our hideout, which is located inside the bush, the next line of action will be to collect the telephone contacts of their relatives. I negotiate with victims’ relatives.
“All the money we received was in foreign currency, because we want to avoid bulky cash. I got N3 million from the ransom paid for our last victim’s release.
“We started the job this November and we have kidnapped only three persons.
“We collected N250,000, N2 million and N5.5 million, respectively.”
Another suspects confess
Justice Iriah, 23, with the operational name Mopol, said: “I am from Edo State. I am one of those armed whenever we are going to kidnap.
“My role is to drag victims out of their cars, into ours and to secure them from the point of kidnap to our den. I received N300,000 from the last operation.”
On his part the third suspect, Ikechukwu Igwebuike, a.k.a Anambra, 22, said his role was same as the latter, adding that he also received N300,000 from the ransom paid for the release of the octogenarian.
Police sources said: “Sequel to the kidnap of one Chief Felix Ogbonna, 80, on November 26, and his subsequent release after ransom was paid, with technical support from TIU, operatives of IGP Intelligence Response Team IRT deployed by IGP Ibrahim Idris, swung into action and eventually arrested five gang members of the new kidnap syndicate.”