Lamentations of native doctor turned kidnapper: My charms, shrines failed me

18:55 Jun 18 2022 Imo State

The Imo Police Command also arrested the girlfriend of a suspected kidnapper, Ogadimma Njoku, 27, described as the one who usually feeds kidnapped victims in her family house.

Another lady, Comfort Igbo, 35, said to be the girlfriend of another suspected kidnapper, had her house searched by police operatives. Items recovered from the place include an AK47 rifle with breach number 1142 loaded with 84 rounds of ammunition, four locally made pistol, ATM card, IPOB-ESN Accoutrement and a Toyota 4-Runner SUV.

Imo State Commissioner of Police, Mr Mohammed Barde told Saturday Sun that the Commander of the Anti-Kidnapping Squad, Oladmeji Oyeyeyiwa, a Superintendent of Police, and his team had, on May 5, 2022 stormed Ahiazu Mbaise Local Government Area of Imo State and arrested the suspects.

He said the Anti-kidnapping operatives team stormed Umunoha Community Mbatoli L.G.A where the monarch, Eze Ali Nnamdi Desmond, Eze Obi II of Obinnoha Igwe Gburugburu of Okechi Ancient Kingdom assisted the police operatives in a house-to-house search with his vigilante group and they rescued two victims from the hands of the kidnappers. He said the suspects confessed to their serial kidnapping operations.

One of the arrested suspects, Igbokwe Joseph confessed of his involvement with the gang. Hear him: “I hail from Umuchoko Ihite Aforuchukwu Ahiszu in Mbaise Local Government Area of Imo State. I attended Isoku Primary School and Path Secondary School. I went to Alvan Ikoku College of Education where I studied Economics/Political Science. I graduated in 2014. I am a herbalist. I later joined a kidnapping group where we have been involved in armed robberies and kidnapping of victims. We have kidnapped over three victims in various places.

“I organised the kidnapping of Nze Benjamin, 68, and Jude Opara. We took them to our hideout in Umunoha Forest and kept them there for four days. We collected dollars and millions of naira as ransom from their relatives.

“I always give my gang members some charm to prevent them from being wounded and not to be arrested by policemen. Some of the victims were kidnapped on April 30 2022 when we blocked their car on the highway and kidnapped them. It was when we were planning for another operation that we were arrested on May 5, 2022 in our hideout in Umunoha Forest.”

Another suspect, Richard Sunday, an ex-convict, who hails from Cross River State, admitted that he had been involved in kidnapping for long.

“I am a driver, and I blocked the victims with our car, kidnapped them and put them in my car. I was involved in the kidnapping of Silas Nwawuba, 60, from Awomama in Oru East L.G.A of Imo State. We took him to our camp in Ahaizu Mbaise axis and collected millions of naira as ransom from his relatives before he was released.

“The Toyota 4-Runner belongs to the victims. I took the car to my gang leader’s girlfriend, Comfort Igbo, for safe-keeping in her house. Later, I started teaching her how to drive the car which my gang leader, Onuoha Obinna promised her as a special gift. My own share of the ransom was N100,000,” he said.

Another suspect, Tochi Chilak, 27, told Saturday Sun: “I hail from Ezeala Ihite Aboh in Mbaise L.G.A of Imo State. I have been involved in different kidnappings with my other gang members. We kidnapped Jude Opara and Nze Benjamin and took them to one of our camps in Umunoha Community where we handed them over to the girlfriend of our member, Ogadima Njoku who always fed them. We gave her N600, 000.00 to prepare food for them. Sometimes, the victims would spend three days or five days, depending on when the ransom is paid by their families. We collected 400, 000 dollars Jude Opara and also collected his ATM card. We threatened to kill him. We also collected his pin number and we withdrew N700,000.00. He was kidnapped on March 12, 2022 and released on March 15, 2022 after we blocked his vehicle on the highway. I was arrested on May, 5 2022 while we were planning another operation in our hideout.”

One of the female suspects, Igbo Comfort stated: “I am from Gwer West Naka Local Government Area L.G.A of Benue state. The kidnapper’s gang leader, Onuoha Obinna is my boyfriend. We started dating in January 2022 and he deceived me that he is a businessman. I didn’t know that he was a kidnapper. Sometimes, be sent a Toyota 4 Runner car to me and parked it in my compound. It was Richard Sunday who was teaching me how to drive the car. Then I started driving the car

“The Anti-Kidnapping operatives stormed my house on May, 5 2022 and arrested me. They searched the house and recovered AK47 rifles with breach number 1142 loaded with 84 rounds of live ammunition, four locally made pistols, ATM Bank card, IPOB-ESN stuff, the SUV, and other personal property of victims. I didn’t know that my boyfriend kept his ammunitions in my house.

“I studied Computer Science at Imo State Polytechnic and graduated in 2012. I did my NYSC in Rivers State in 2014/2015. I am into hairstyling. I want the police authorities to forgive me. I didn’t know that my boyfriend is leader of kidnappers.”

Ogadima Njoku, another female suspect, told the reporter that she dropped out of school in JSS 2 when she became pregnant and had a child. The 27-year-old lady continued: “Later, I got married in 2011 to Mr. Clement Nwuka. I have five children and I am a full housewife.

“I know one of the kidnappers who was my boyfriend. Whenever they kidnapped victims, I always help them keep their victims in my family house. They always give me money to prepare food for them. I usually keep them for three to five days until their pay their ransom to the kidnappers’ gang. I was arrested by the Anti-Kidnapping operatives on May 5, 2022 when they rescued the victims in my father’s house where I kept them. My husband was not aware of my keeping kidnappers in my father’s house. I have five children, and the police operatives burnt down our house,” she said.

Eze Ali Richard Desmond, Eze Obi II of Obinmoha Igwe Gburugburu of Okechi Ancient kingdom also explained how the rescue effort went. “The gang members had been using my Umunoha village in Mbaitoli L.G.A Imo State to keep their victims. I assisted the police operatives with our vigilance group to follow them from house to house before we rescued two victims. I have assisted the police operatives to re-arrest inmates who escaped from the Correctional Centres and were using my community as hideout. We have also been assisting the police operatives to flush out criminals from the forest.”

One of the victims, Jude Opara, said his vehicle was blocked on the highway about 8.30pm by the kidnappers who took him to their hideout. “They blindfolded me and abandoned my wife on the highway. I paid 400, 000 dollars to them. They also took my ATM card, collected the pin and withdrew N700,000.00 from my First Bank account. They took my wife’s bag with valuable documents. I was released on March 15, 2022. We have not recovered my wife’s bag which contained some vital documents. We want justice to be done,” he said.

Another victim, 68-year-old Nze Benjamin also stated his story. “I was kidnapped in April 2022. One of the gang leaders, Igbokwe Joseph, a member of our family, masterminded my kidnap. I was taken to the camp forest, where they collected N1.7million from my family. They released me and removed the blindfold from my two eyes and told me to run. While running, a car hit me and right now I am receiving treatment at the hospital.”

“I was shocked when Igbokwe Joseph confessed to his evil act. We want to appreciate the Anti-kidnapping Unit for the wonderful job of arresting ten suspected kidnappers.”

Another suspect, Nnaimo Onyebuchi, 43, said he was the native doctor treating the gang members when they have bullet wounds. “They always give me my own share. I gave them charms to protect them against any evil act. I was arrested with some of the kidnappers on May 5, 2022 at the camp. All my charms failed me. The police have captured me and my entire shrines are useless. I have surrendered all my charms to the police operatives” he said.

Deputy Commissioner of Police (Operations), Mr. Femi Haruna said the ten suspects were arrested at different locations in the forest. He said the police had raided the hideouts and recovered sophisticated weapons.

“We have redeployed all our tactical team to be in surveillance in that axis because some of the syndicate who escaped will want to come back to their camp in the forest again,” he said.

CP Barde said that the arrested suspects would soon be charged to court after the conclusion of investigation.
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