How herbalist masterminded kidnap of hotel MD
Armed men later discovered to be kidnappers, struck at about 7pm on December 4, 2014, in Ikorodu area of Lagos. The kidnappers who operated in a Toyota vehicle, veered off its lane in a commando-like manner and blocked a vehicle . Two armed men reportedly jumped out of the vehicle and ordered its lone occupant, later discovered to be the Managing Director of a popular hotel around the area, to come down. They whisked him away.
They reportedly took their victim identified as Durodola Muwalu to a shrine in Imobi, in the Ijebu waterside area, where they kept him for a week before they relocated him to Imoru, all in Ogun state.
From their hideout , they made a call to their victim’s family demanding a ransom of N60million. The amount was later reduced to N10million when it became obvious that the family was not forth coming with a reasonable response.
Unknown to the kidnappers, operatives of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad, SARS , Ikeja, were keeping tab on every telephone conversation, consequent upon which they (operatives), swooped on their hideout in Ijebu-Ode , on December 15, 2014 , where four of the suspected kidnappers identified as Felix Ikuomola, Gbenga Popoola, Adebayo Akibu and Azeez Olowu were arrested and their victim rescued.
However, during interrogation , the suspects disclosed that they were hired by one of the traditional rulers in Itokin area of Ikorodu, whom they named as Oni Adekoya, aka Agbogidi . They further revealed that Muwalu, the victim, was later discovered not to be the actual target after all, stating that their actual target was owner of the hotel whom Adekoya accused of giving other chiefs cars but left him out.
A mild drama unfolded during interrogation after the alleged mastermind , Oni Adekoya, aka Agbogidi , exchanged banters with other suspects , over his alleged involvement.While he insisted he knew nothing about the kidnap, other suspects claimed he promised to share the ransom with them had they succeeded .
In an interview with Crime Guard, the suspects told all they knew about the botched kidnap.
First was the traditional ruler, Adekoya, who was alleged to be the brain behind the entire operation.
He started by taking what he assumed as an oath of truth , saying : “I swear by my profession as a herbalist that I do not know what they are talking about. I have been a herbalists for 27 years .
“Gbenga (one of the suspects ) called me one day to say that he wanted to kidnap Baale and I told him to go ahead. When the gang eventually kidnapped the victim, I was not there. I later I received a call from them, informing that they had succeeded in the operation and that they were in the bush.
Three days later, another member of the gang, Azeez, called to inform me that they needed money to buy fuel for the operational vehicle. I asked him why they haven’t released the victim and they said it was because they were yet to get any ransom. I was afraid that they could kill the victim. I requested to speak with the victim on phone and they obliged me.
Earlier,Gbenga’s mother confided in me that her son decided to kidnap the victim because he offended him”
Asked why he was keen on knowing the fate of the victim since he claimed not to have a hand in the kidnap saga, he explained that : “ Gbenga is one of my clients . I knew him when he came to my shrine with his mother and wife , saying they needed me to carry out sacrifice for their unborn child. They told me that a Pastor directed them to carry out the sacrifice in order to ensure safe delievery for his pregnant wife. I prepared the sacrifice for them and they went their way.
Unfortunately the baby died few days after his wife put to bed. I later realized that they didn’t complete the entire process of the sacrifice properly. This was how we started interacting. I have no hand in the kidnap …”
You are a liar !
At this junture, Gbenga Popoola interupted by yelling “You are a liar! ( turning to Adekoya). I was in a viewing center when I received a call from Ojurongbe (a member of the gang who is currently at large) that Baba Oni aka Agbogidi had a job for us. I asked him why he wanted to kidnap the owner of the hotel, he said he was a fraudster and that his fraudulent activities had affected his herbalist business.
It took us three weeks to plan for the success of the kidnap . After we concluded plans for the operation, it was Agbogidi( pointing at Adekoya) who took one of us, Felix, to the venue of the operation before we struck.
On the day of the operation he did not go with us for fear of being recognized by the victim. What he did was to give us instruction on what to do through the phone.
“ I was the one who carried the pump-action rifle on that day . And I make bold to declare that Agbogidi (Adekoya) and Ojurongbe contracted me to help them deal with the hotel owner. So for him to say he knew nothing about it is a big lie!
In actual fact, our target was the owner of the hotel. Unfortunately, his car was driven by the hotel’s manager on the day of the operation.
From the onset, I smelt trouble because on the day of the operation, I noticed some foul play from Agbogidi (Adekoya). When we discovered that the kidnapped man was not the actual victim, we were disturbed . But we were reassured by Adekoya that we would get something good as ransom. Unfortunately, the family was yet to pay anything before we were arrested.”
Immediately this reporter approached another suspected member of the gang, Felix Ikuomola, he collaborated Gbenga’s claim. Without mincing words, he stated “ I swear to God who created me that it was Agbogidi that contracted every member of the gang for this operation. He told us that the victim had money and that if we kidnapped him, we would make money out of it.
I personally asked him how much he was going to pay us for the job and he said that whatever amount paid as ransom would be shared equally among us. On two occasions, we even met in his office to discuss on the success of the operation. He even assured us that he would protect us if we were caught by the police in the process of carrying out the operation. He boasted also that he knew top echelons in the Police Force that would get us out”
We reduced the ransom out of frustration
On his part, Adebayo Abiku revealed that N60 million was initially demanded as ransom but that they had to come down to N5 million out of frustration.
According to Abiku (40) who claimed to have driven the gang’s operational vehicle: “ We initially demanded for N60 million as ransom. But the person that was speaking with us begged that the amount be reduced because they did not have that much . But after a long wait in the bush and several relocations for fear of being caught by the Police, we decided to first reduce the ransom to N10 million . Yet the family was not forth coming with the amount. We later reduced it to N5 million”.
I participated because I needed money
At a point, he became sober and continued in an emotional laden tone “I participated in the operation because I needed money. I drove the gang during the entire operation. On that day, we blocked our victim’s vehicle while he was driving home and asked him to come with us ”
Confessing to the crime, 38-year-old Azeez Olowu said he supplied the gang with the rifle but denied being in the know of the kidnap .
The Lagos State Police Public Relations Officer, Kenneth Nwosu, a Deputy Superintendent of Police , DSP said investigation in the case was still on going , with a view to apprehending other fleeing members of the gang.