Police foil kidnap of Oba of Ibeju-Lekki
…arrest five Lagos landlord kidnappers
The Nigeria Police Force has disclosed that it foiled an attempt to kidnap a top rated traditional ruler in Lagos State, Oba Rafiu Salami, who is the Onibeju of Ibeju-Lekki Kingdom, Lagos, when it apprehended five members of the gang of kidnappers, who abducted three landlords and their trainer, during routine exercise penultimate Saturday, at Isheri North Area of the State.
Our Correspondent gathered that the dreaded gang of kidnappers, who have been terrorizing communities around riverine areas within Lagos and Ogun State in recent times were in the final stage of their plans to abduct Oba Salami when operatives of the Inspector General of Police Special Intelligence Response Team, IRT led by SP Abba Kyari swooped on them.
The suspects who were picked up separately in Ore Town in Ondo State, Sapele in Delta State, Ibafo in Ogun State and Epe and Ikorodu areas of Lagos State, were identified as Natei Okunna, Gang leader, James Kegbe, Thank-God Segede, Trust Bourdilon and Timi Inomi. Sources disclosed that the suspects confessed during interrogation to have received the sum of N12million as ransom before releasing the landlords, who were identified as Kennedy Ucheagwu, Dr. Omololu Bello, Fidelis Esang and their trainer, Olalere Olawale.
A source at the force headquarters highlighted that while the kidnappers held the landlords in their den that was located inside the creeks of Ikorodu, the police were said to have also gathered intelligence indicating that the kidnappers had identified a new target and have sent scouts to monitor the movements of the target.
Further intelligence, according to our source, indicated that the gang’s new target was Oba Salami and they were putting final touches to their plan in abducting the Oba.
The Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, in effort to prevent a repeat of the August 7, 2016 incident, in Iba area of Lagos State, where, Oba Goriola Oseni, the Oniba of Iba land was kidnapped and a ransom on N15.1million was paid as ransom before he was released, swiftly deployed his operatives of the IRT led by CSP Abba Kyari to Lagos State, with a mandate to trail and apprehend all the suspects involved in case.
The first suspect, James Kegbe, A.K.A JJ, was arrested in his house in Ore Town, while the gang leader, Natei Okunna, also known as Osama, an Ex-Niger Delta Militant, was trailed to his hideout in Sapele Delta State, while the three other suspects were arrested in Ogun and Lagos State respectively.
The gang leader while answering questions from our correspondent, lamented that he went back into crime after receiving the Presidential Amnesty for Niger Delta Militants in 2009 because the Presidential Amnesty office stopped paying his monthly stipends. The 29-year-old explained that he was trained as a marine pilot in South Africa by the Presidential Amnesty Program, but when he returned to Nigeria, he couldn’t secure a job and he was surviving with the monthly stipends he was getting from PAP, but in 2015, PAP stopped paying him and others.
“I relocated from my home Town in Warri North Local Government to Lagos State where I joined some of my friends and brothers who are into pipeline vandalism in Ikorodu area of Lagos State. When I came, it was Vickar who accommodated me and showed me what they were doing. First, we were vandalizing pipeline and selling the products, but when it stopped we moved into kidnapping. Our camp was formally in creeks of Shawo in Ikorodu, but when the army started bombing that area we moved away and we set up a new camp inside the creek of Ajegunle area of Ikorodu. We did several kidnappings around that area but when the job to kidnap the landlords at Isheri came, I didn’t go with them because I am like a boss.
“I was the one who deployed the guy who went on surveillance and on the day they struck, I was at the camp when they brought the men and I gave instructions that they should be feed properly. I wasn’t the one who did the negotiation because I left the camp three days after they brought the men and I went to stay with my girlfriend at a hotel. When they ransom was paid, I was called to come for my share and I asked one of my boys to bring the money to me in my hotel room and when I counted it, the total money was N500,000. They told me that everyone in the camp got a share of the money. But before that money came we were also making plans to go to Ibeju-Lekki to kidnap the king of that area. An informant brought the job to us and the person said security around the king is not tight and we sent him to watch the man’s movements and tell us how often he comes to the waterside. Our informant gave us a positive result, but we were yet to chose a date for the operation when I was arrested”. He lamented
Another suspect, James Akegbe, a native of Arogbo in Ondo State said; ” I was in my house in Ore when I was arrested. I am a fisherman and I joined Stone’s Camp for kidnapping because I wasn’t making enough money from my fishing job. We were seven in number that went for the job and we went with one boat and five rifles. our informant told us that they will come out in the morning to jog around that area. four of us stood by the roadside with guns waiting for them and when they sighted us they got scared and started running. We went after them and shot into the air and four them laid on the ground and we kidnapped them while others escaped. After we kidnapped them, it was Julius and Senior man that negotiated and collected the ransom from the people at Ajegunle. I was given N300, 000. I was arrested in my house while I was relaxing with my family.” he stated
Meanwhile, Thank-God Jegede 27, who is also from Arogbo Town in Ondo, said he works as a cleaner in a hotel in Sheri North, but he explained that it was his step-Father known as MB who gave the job to the kidnappers, but he said he wasn’t aware when the man contacted the kidnappers.
According to him; ” my stepfather didn’t tell me about this plans but It was one of my friends we call Trust that told me that they were planning the kidnapping. Trust also told me that it was my stepfather that brought the job to them. The man is married to my mother and they have four children together. The man is a fisherman and a hunter. He normally hunts bush cow inside the Isheri bush and he lives inside an uncompleted building within that same area with my mother. After I was told about the job, I indicated my interest and I was told that my role would be to monitor the movements of our target and I should alert them the moment I see them jogging. I was given N300,000 and my stepfather was given N500,000.” he explained
But 28-year-old, Trust Boudillion, told Crime Gaurd that he bought all the foods the landlords ate while in captivity adding that after the ransom was paid, he and Akegbe led their victim out of the camp and dropped them off at a suitable spot where they found their way home.
Narrating his role he said; I am a trader and I sell food stuff with my wife at Odo Kekere area of Ikorodu. I have always been part of that gang and when we got the landlords job and we wanted to kidnap our victims, they ran and we shot into the air and four of them lay on the ground and we kidnapped them. it was Osama that thought me how to shoot. I got N300,000 as my share.
The Force Public Relations Officer Don Awuna, who confirmed the arrest, stated that the IGP, Ibrahim would not relent in his effort in combating crime and criminality within the country and ensure the safety of all member of the public. He further stated efforts is at top gear to arrest more other suspects involved and those arrested will be charged to court.