With the way they stood side by side and were collectively dreading the cameras, one could safely assume that they already have some regrets for what they had done.
Until their recent arrest by the operatives of the Inspector-General of Police Special Intelligence Response Team, the gang members had kidnapped several individuals and collected millions of naira as ransom from families of their victims.
According to the police, those earlier kidnapped by the suspects include a former Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Amb. Bagudu Hirse, who was kidnapped on November 20, 2016 and was released after six days; a chieftain of the All Progressives Congress in Kaduna State, Dr. Abdulmalik Durunguwa; a member of the Kaduna State House of Assembly and Durunguwa’s wife who was again abducted by the suspects after the husband had regained his freedom.
But nemesis caught up with them when the IRT and STS operatives in Kaduna moved in on them and arrested no fewer than six of them.
One of them is 35-year-old Ifeanyi Chukwu, who hails from Abia State and was arrested in a hotel in Aba. He confessed to being one of those who kidnapped Hirse and many others across the country, including Imo, Rivers, Delta, Abia, Kaduna states and the Federal Capital Territory.
During interrogation, Chukwu said he went into kidnapping in 2015 and that it was his share from the ransom that he used for his wedding ceremony on December 29 (2016).
“I used my share of the ransom from the Kaduna kidnapping for my weding on December 29,” he said.
Meanwhile, another member of the group, Jato Peter, 29, was a policeman before he was dismissed after killing someone. Given that he still had his uniform, Jato said he would always wear his police uniform anytime they were taking their victims to where they would be kept. He claimed he didn’t know what the gang was into initially, but the first time he accompanied their victim, he was given N50,000. He said, “Two days later, we kidnapped someone and I was given N200,000. We did the second one and they gave me N400,000. And then they asked me to come to Kaduna; I escorted cars for them on the third occasion and that was when I was arrested and taken to prison.”
Other members arrested also included a 33-year-old HND holder, Dominic Nwanpaka, who hails from Abia State. He said one Alhaji bought guns for them to snatch cars for him and that they snatched several cars for him. He recalled that one Ifeanyi introduced him to kidnapping and their first victim was an importer. He said N5m was collected from the man before he was released.
He added, “Then we kidnapped a medical doctor and kept him in the house of a gang member known as Uche. And N10m was paid before he was released. We also kidnapped another medical doctor and we collected N470,000 and his Toyota Sequoia sport utility vehicle. Those were the jobs I did with Ifeanyi and his gang in Abia and I relocated to Kaduna because people started looking for kidnappers in Abia.”
On getting to Kaduna, he said one Balla brought to him another deal to kidnap Abdulmalik, from whose family they collected N5m before he was released.
He said, “We also kidnapped a member of the Kaduna State House of Assembly and he gave us N10m. We then kidnapped Dr. Abdulmalik’s wife, not knowing she was the wife of our first victim. When we realised that, we apologised to him and told him to give us whatever he had.
“Before we were arrested, we kidnapped an ambassador; we found him and two others at a gathering and we went after them. We kidnapped the ambassador and he gave us N1m before he was released.”
He said he was later arrested in Lagos and that he was shot on his two legs, while the car he bought was confiscated.
Other members arrested include 30-year-old Ballat Paul, aka Timberland, who was the driver of the gang, Ibrahim Samuel and 35-year-old Afini Paul, who is a sister to the driver and the girlfriend to the gang leader Dominic. She also rented a two-bedroomed flat at Marabarido, Kaduna State where they kept their victims. She was also the gang’s cook.
Vehicles snatched include two Toyota Corolla saloon cars and a Toyota Hilux, while the items recovered from them include two pump action rifles, 145 pieces of AK47 rifles, 21 cartridges, six pieces of 9mm ammunition, a complete camouflage police uniform, two army face caps, one anti-tracking device, mask and assorted charms.
A police source said apart from making N20m when they kidnapped two medical doctors in Aba before releasing them, they also kidnapped an unidentified man, whom they later killed in their den in Aba.
The source added, “Suspects confessed to the act and are helping operatives to arrest the fleeing gang members. Sani Ayub’s main duty was to ferry cars out of Kaduna State after snatching. Our investigation continues.”