Three years after the kidnap of a four-year-old boy, Alonge Oluwatumishe, on his way from school at Ishaga area of Lagos, his kidnappers who pocketed a N5m ransom in the operation have all but forgotten it ever happened.
But the long arm of the law caught up with three of the suspects recently, when the Inspector-General of Police Special Intelligence Response Team, apprehended them.
Oluwatumise was abducted by five men in January 2013 and taken to Abeokuta, Ogun State, for the duration of the time his kidnappers negotiated with his parents, who were said to own a popular school around Ishaga.
Saturday PUNCH learnt that the suspects – Paul Ibara, Ifeanyi Obi and Tunde Edu – were trailed to their hideouts in Ishaga, Agege and Egbeda areas of Lagos, The police recovered a locally made gun in the process.
However, one of the suspects, Ibara, was quick to point out that he did not just undertake the kidnapping out of wickedness but to save a life – in this case, that of his father.
Two of the suspects, Edu and Obi, said they were pulled into the plot by Ibara (aka MOPOL).
Thirty-six-year old Ibara, a native of Akwa-Ibom State, said the only motive for the kidnap was to save his father who had been diagnosed with prostrate cancer.
He said, “At the time, my family were at Ishaga but I was working in Maiduguri, Borno State when I learnt that my father was sick. When I came back to Lagos, his condition had become very bad and the doctors in Uyo, where I took him to, said only a surgery would save his life. The hospital demanded N450,000 but later, they said they needed to refer him to Ghana, where I was told the bill was N800,000.
“I had no money at the time and my salary was barely enough to feed my family. My brain started working on different ways to get money. I did not know how to raise the money. Then, my mind went to the father of the boy we kidnapped because he had a big school in my area at Ishaga.
“I realised that if I kidnapped his son, I might get some money for my father’s surgery. I informed Tunde (Edun, aka Otunba). There was a time he came to my wife’s shop and said he was broke and was looking for money to pay his children’s school fees.
“When I told him about my plans, he immediately said he was interested but worried that the man might not have enough money to pay. I also told two other friends of mine – Victor and Yellow from Abia State – about the plan. I asked Victor to look for two registered SIM cards, which we used to communicate with the boy’s parents.”
Ibara said Obi on the other hand, was the one who provided the vehicle used for the operation since he worked as a spare parts trader at Ladipo Market.
According to him, Victor provided one of the guns used while Otunba brought a second gun, which he said belonged to his father.
He said, “A day before we kidnapped the boy, we met in my wife’s shop and we concluded our plans. I told them I would be the one to monitor the boy’s movement, while they would grab him.
“The next day when the boy was on his way to school, I called and informed them when I sighted him and he was kidnapped at the entrance of our street. They took him to Abeokuta where they kept him in Tunde’s father’s house.
“I got the phone number of the boy’s father through one of the pupils of his school and I told him to pay N10m to get his son back. The man told me that he did not have such money but begged to pay N5m.
“Four days after, he said he had the money and I told him to come to Abeokuta Road. When we saw his vehicle, we asked him to drop the money by the side of the road. We later released the boy that night and we shared the money. When we shared the money, each of us got N1m and I was able to send N700,000 to my father for his surgery, which is why he is still alive till today.”
Ibara said all these years, he had forgotten the incident until he received a call from Obi few weeks ago asking him to meet him.
“I did not know the police were with him. That was how I was caught,” he said.
Edu, a native of Abeokuta Ogun State, told the police that Ibara was to blame for his involvement in the kidnapping.
The father of two told the police that he was a club bouncer with an ordinary national diploma in Estate Management from the Moshood Abiola Polytechnic, Abeokuta.
He said, “It was Paul that invited me for the job. I had approached him in the past and told him that I wanted a job and asked him to assist me. Two weeks later, he called me and said someone was owing him some money and I should assist him to ‘arrest’ the person’s child. He said we would return the child once the person paid him his money and that he would give me a percentage.
“He told me that we needed a gun for the operation and I told him that my father had a gun. I went to our hometown and took my father’s gun. On the day of the operation, I was in the car with Obi and the two men Paul had invited for the operation.
“We stopped the car that was taking the boy to school by pointing my gun at the driver and we took him to my father’s house before his father paid the money.
“Out of my share of the money paid, I rented an apartment; I also paid my children’s school fees. After that operation, I stopped seeing Paul and Ifeanyi. I was arrested at a filling station. I swear I don’t know that what I took part in was kidnapping, I was only trying to assist a friend.”
As if his excuse was not hilarious enough, 32-year old Obi, a native of Abia State, simply accused former Lagos State Governor, Babatunde Fashola, of pushing him into crime.
Obi said when his shop at Ladipo auto spare part market was demolished by the Fashola government in 2012, he became frustrated.
He lamented that his frustration led him to Paul who eventually introduced him to kidnapping.
He said, “I am not married. I came to Lagos in 2008, I am not educated. I am from a very poor family. After serving my boss for seven years at Ladipo, he settled me with his shop and some money.
“From there, I started doing my own business. One of my customers told me that he wanted to sell his vehicle, a 1986 model of Montero SUV. I bought it and paid N110,000 for it .
“But on December 28, 2012, I was at my village when I got news that former Lagos State Governor, Babatunde Fashola, had demolished our shops. When I returned to Lagos, I couldn’t find any of my goods. Few days later, one of my customers called me to bring a spare part to him. He took me to the shop of the wife of a mobile policeman, whom he then introduced to me. I became friends with the policeman.
“I told him that I wanted to sell my SUV and needed money to start afresh and that all I had had been destroyed in my shop when it was demolished. He told me that there was a job that could earn money. He then outlined the kidnapping job to me. After we kidnapped the boy and the ransom was paid, I was given N700,000.”
The police have said they are still on the trail of the two other suspects involved in the kidnapping but that the suspects would be charged to court soon.