A driver who masterminded the kidnap of his boss Dr. S.M.C Maduagwu, said to be the Chief Accountant of Plantgeria Limited, an oil firm based in Rivers state capital Port Harcourt, has been arrested alongside his gang members by the operatives of the Inspector General of Police Intelligence Response Team (IRT).
Uchechukwu Ibekwe and his gang members identified as Tony Rafael, Nnaji Romanus and Nwobodo Uchechukwu were arrested at their hideouts in Rivers and Imo States after collecting N20m ransom for the kidnap of his boss in February 2018.
The driver confessed to kidnapping his boss while paraded before newsmen, and he further revealed that he masterminded the abduction over his (Maduagwu) refusal to approve a loan he wanted to collect from the company.
“I am a driver at Plantgeria Company Limited and I was employed in 2007. I was transferred to Shell to work as a driver in 2017. I was recalled and posted to the head office of our company to work as a driver of an expatriate. In 2018, I applied for a loan from our company, requesting that my salary should be paid in advance. I met the Chief Accountant of our company to perfect the loan.
“He shouted at me and sent me out of his office. I left his office angrily and was thinking of how to deal with him. I got a call from a friend of mine known as Stanley, who is also from my community but was into armed robbery and kidnapping. I related what happened between the Chief Accountant and he suggested we should kidnap him (Maduagwu) or any of the expatriates. I chose the accountant and gave him information about the man.”
The father of three admitted to receiving N800,000 as his share of the ransom and buying a Nissan Primera with his cut.
“I was with my wife at home when the police came and arrested me. I have told the police all I knew about the kidnapping and I also told them that I have never gone out with the gang to carry out any form of kidnapping or armed robbery,” he stated.
Also confessing to his role in the kidnap, 38-year-old Nwobodo said he joined the gang to raise N200,000 for the treatment of his wife. The suspect who claimed to be farmer said he masterminded the beheading of the leader of his gang, Christian Nkemjika a.k.a School Boy, because he was very greedy. According to him, School Boy deceitfully declared a sum of N10 million instead of N20 million ransom he was paid by family members of the victim.
He said: “I am a full time farmer, but I went into kidnapping when my wife fell sick and was down with stroke. Her doctor demanded the sum of N200, 000 deposit (for her treatment) and I approached School-Boy my gang leader; he gave me the sum of N100, 000 to give to the doctor. He told me about the accountant I was to closely watch or monitor and I did as he instructed for about one month till the day he was ready to kidnap the man. I trailed the man (victim) from the time he left his office and when he got to Oil Mill junction, Schoolboy and other members of the gang who were decked in police and army uniform abducted the man and took him away in their Toyota Hilux van.
’The man was taken to my farm where he was kept and negotiation for his ransom was concluded. I wasn’t in the farm with them, but after the kidnapping, School-Boy gave me the balance of N100,000 to give to my wife’s doctor. Two weeks later School Boy informed me that N10 million had been paid as ransom for the release of the accountant release and that the man had been freed.
‘’At that time, I didn’t doubt him and all of us that took part in the operation to the home of a native doctor known as Romanus Nnaji and he started sharing the money. He handed me the sum of N1.5million to give to Ibekwe and Stanley, the informants that brought the job and he also gave me N500, 000 as my own share.
‘’Few months after that operation, I got a call that my brother had been arrested by the police over the kidnapping of the accountant and that the actual amount paid for the man’s freedom was N20million. I felt bad that School-Boy cheated every one of us by declaring N10 million as the only ransom that was paid and he kept the other N10million to himself and shared the one he declared with us.
‘’I said nothing at that time because the police were looking for me and I ran to a church in Akwa Ibom for prayers to ask God for forgiveness and told the people at the church about the police that were looking for me. But while I was at the church, the policemen trailed me down to the church and luckily for me I was in the church’s toilet when I saw the police van and I fled into the bush.
‘’I trekked in that bush to Ndoni area of Rivers State. When I got back, I called School Boy and told him that the police were looking for me and I could not continue to run and I assured him that I will surrender myself but he threatened to kill me.
‘’I then ran to Imo State and I stayed there for three weeks and the police came again to look for me but I escaped. While I was running away to hide for the tide to pass, I called School-Boy to give me part of the N10million he refused to declare to the gang so that I could run out of the country, but he refused, and I felt the best thing I should do at the moment was to set him up and have him killed.
‘’I contacted some members of De-Gbam confraternity who had been looking for him and I gave out his location to them and they attacked and beheaded him. After they succeeded in the killing of School-Boy, I approached a lawyer in Owerri Imo State where I was hiding with my pregnant wife to seek a legal advice on what I could do since the police were hunting for me everywhere. I was there when the nurse at the hospital where my wife had gone to deliver her baby told me on the telephone that policemen had trailed my wife to her hospital and I ran away again. I was later arrested in June 2019 by the operatives in Orlu Imo State,’’ he added.
Romanus, the 50-year-old native doctor from Etche Local Government Area of Rivers State, said he was paid N200,000 to administer oaths on members of the gang, adding that he got N50,000 from the ransom. The suspects will be charged to court after investigation has been concluded.