Nigeria: Arrest of kidnap kingpin makes headlines in Nigeria

Lagos, Nigeria (PANA) - The arrest of Mr. Chukwudi Onuamadike, known in crime circles as Evans, was the major story in Nigeria this week.

The GUARDIAN reported the incident in two headlines - "How kidnap kingpin Evans was arrested in Lagos" and "Finally, police nab notorious kidnap kingpin, Evans", saying that more than 20 security operatives stormed the Fred Shoboyejo home of vicious kidnapper and robber, Evans, less than a month after the police announced a 30-million-naira bounty in return for information leading to his arrest. (US$1=305 naira)

For at least seven years, Evans has co-ordinated bank robberies across Oyo, Port Harcourt and Abia, as well as numerous high-profile kidnappings whose ransoms amount to hundreds of millions of naira.

But last week Saturday, utilising months of information gathering and fresh tips, the usually quiet ambience of Magodo GRA Phase 2 was interrupted by gunshots as security manned the Y-crescent zone where Evans lived.

According to the paper, "Without a picture of what he looked like, police first descended upon an adjacent building and roughened the occupants before realising the error – Evans is said to own a certain pricey brand of Jeep which was used to identify the criminal’s building."

Painted in light blue, the modest duplex sits behind a reflecting steel gate, not very differently from the many other duplex buildings in the area.

As neighbours gathered to watch in disbelief, many lamented the grave danger they had been unknowingly exposed to by living next to a criminal of this repute. “There’s always 24-hours power supply in this (Evan’s) house. He even connected the street lights to his house power (which is not an exceptional deed for a Magodo resident). At least, we’ll miss him for that deed,” a neighbour, Toyin, quipped.

Until Saturday, Evans was the regular upscale Magodo neighbour with a wife, kids (infant and toddler), house help and gate man. He drove himself and had no security apparatus or escort vans. He was totally unassuming and drew no attention to himself. He loved cars and had a black sport car which he’d sometimes park on the street. His next-door neighbour is an ex-naval officer. This raid unsettled the otherwise quiet estate where the Deputy Governor of Lagos state also lives.

The raid was successful and as security operatives brought out heavy bags and a vault - suspected to contain money and weapons, the visibly excited officials shot in the air sporadically, playing loud music from their cars, striking a machete against the tarred road out of joy, dancing and singing.

The Police Inspector-General’s Intelligence Response Team (IRT) has confirmed the capture and promised to parade the kingpin before newsmen at noon, in Lagos, on Sunday.

The PREMIUM TIMES, under the headline "How arrested kidnap kingpin Evans made millions of dollars from ransom – Police', said the Lagos State Police Command on Sunday paraded one of the most wanted kidnap suspects in Nigeria, Chukwudi Onuamadike, who was named the “most wanted kidnap kingpin” in February.

Chief Superintendent of Police Jimoh Moshood, the Force Public Relations Officer, said Mr. Onuamadike and his gang keep their kidnap victims in the Lagos area at House No. 21 Prophet Asaye Close, New Igando. “Ransom money are paid to him (in) millions of dollars and some victims are kept for upward of six to seven months until the last penny is paid.”

Mr. Onuamadike, 36, was overpowered by the police at his home in Magodo, Lagos, after a gun battle that lasted several hours.

The police said the suspect, who hails from Nnewi in south east Anambra State, was the leader of a highly-organised kidnap-for-ransom syndicate who terrorised prominent Nigerians in Lagos and other parts of western, eastern, south-south, as well as northern Nigeria.

Mr. Onuamadike was first declared wanted in August 2013, when he allegedly masterminded the attempted kidnap of Vincent Obianodo, the owner of the popular Young Shall Grow Motors, in Festac Town.

One police officer and three kidnappers died in the failed kidnap attempt.

“Some of Evans gang members were subsequently arrested, but he regrouped after with several gangs and became more vicious and unleashed terror in the mentioned states of the federation,” said Jimoh Moshood, Force Public Relations Officer.

On Sunday, Mr. Onuamadike was paraded before journalists alongside his alleged accomplices including Chukwuma Nwosu, 42, his third in command; Paul Suoyo, 42; Felix Chinemerem, 36; Ikenna Emeka, 28; Uchechukwu Amadi; and Ogechi Amadi.

The police said the arms and ammunition recovered from them include five AK-47 rifles, one AK-49 rifle; two double-barrel long; two English pistols; 59 AK-47 magazine with ammunition; 1,272 live ammunition of AK-47 (9mm); five different vehicle plate numbers.

The PUNCH ran the story under the headline "I collect ransom in dollars, says Evans, notorious kidnapper", with the rider 'Suspect got $4m from four victims – Police'.

According to the paper, kidnapper Chukwudi Onuamadike says ransoms for the release of his victims are usually paid in dollars.

The 36-year-old, who dropped out of school, also confessed to have once collected US$1m ransom.

The police said his modus operandi was to engage a gang to carry out kidnapping, while another gang held the victims hostage until ransoms were paid. It was said that none of the gang members knew where he lived since 2008 when he reportedly went into kidnapping.

The police said Evans had raked in US$4m from four of his 13 captives in Lagos, and used part of the proceeds to acquire two mansions worth 300 million naira in Magodo Phase II, another two houses in Accra, Ghana, exotic cars, expensive wristwatches and jewelleries.

The police said some of his high-profile victims included one James Uduji, who was kidnapped around his house at 7th Avenue, FESTAC Town, in 2016, and held for six weeks until US$1m ransom was paid, as well as one Uche Okoroafor, a trader at Alaba International Market, who spent three months in hostage until US$1m was paid for his release.

"Worry, as Evans names bigwigs in kidnap ring" was the headline of the VANGUARD. It quoted police sources as saying that barely 48 hours after his arrest Evans has started singing like a canary, naming high-profile accomplices.

It was gathered that detectives investigating the case were kept busy, taking him round Lagos, with a view to rounding up all those he had so far named.

Police said some of the investigators have left Lagos in search of other named accomplices said to be outside Lagos, especially Edo, Umuahia, Aba, Onitsha and Nnewi, his home town, where he held sway for long until he relocated to Lagos.  Efforts, according to sources, are also in top gear to locate his properties scattered all over the towns where he operated.

Vanguard learned that police have also strengthened security around the kidnap kingpin based on intelligence reports that some of the high-profile accomplices are gearing up to find means of silencing their leader to stop him from exposing them.
-0- PANA VAO/MA 17June2017

17 june 2017 12:34:55

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