• Gang leader narrates how ex-foreign affairs minister paid N10m ransom
Dele Ogbodo in Abuja
The Nigeria Police monday paraded three ex-police officers, Mr. Maisamari Dan Katsina, Bulus Jatau, Jatau Peter and five other suspects involved in the kidnap of the former Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Mr. Bagudu Hirse, and the Sierra Leonean diplomat in Nigeria, Mr. Nelson William, last year.
Though Hirse and William were separately kidnapped in Kaduna, between June and November 2016, leader of the suspected kidnappers confessed he collected N10 million ransom from the former minister, while undisclosed ransom was also collected for the diplomat.
The other suspects, according to the Force Public Relations Officer, Don Awunah, were Domnic Nwakpa, aka Alhaji, identified as gang leader; Ifeanyi Chukwu, Balat Paul, Miss Afini Paul and Clinton Abere.
At the time of the arrest, the police said the suspects were found with two pump action guns, 131 rounds of AK 47 ammunition, police camouflage uniform and two military caps, two operational vehicles, anti-car tracking device, mobile phone, four revolvers, 31 live cartridges, Prado SUV, Toyota Cricket and Toyota Corolla which were separately displayed as exhibits.
Awunah said operatives attached to the IG Intelligence Response Team, on January 1, after a sustained surveillance, smashed the gang known to have been terrorising Kaduna and its environs in 2016, in their hideouts in Dan Hassan road, Ungwa Boro, Kaduna.
The only female member of the gang, who was in charge of cooking for the kidnapped victims and gang members, was picked up at her residence at Mararaba Rido, Kaduna.
According to the Force PRO, the other suspects were arrested in Lagos and Ogbor Hill in Abia State, adding that the gang also confessed to the kidnap of Hon. Abdulmalik Duruguwa and his wife in August 2016 in Kaduna, and an undisclosed ransom was collected from them.
Responding to questions from journalists, Nwakpa, 32, who is the leader of the gang, said he holds an HND certificate; worked for a while before retiring to the kidnapping business.
On how the former minister was kidnapped, he said: “With our network and operational vehicles, we patrol the town of Kaduna, and on this occasion, we saw Bagudu inside about to enter a building. We drove back and took him before any help could come to him.
“We held him for two days while the negotiation for ransom of N50 million continued. Bagudu’s contact man wasn’t forthcoming and after two days, his wife called and said one Samuel has N10 million for us, which we asked to be changed to dollar and he did.”
Also fielding questions, the female member of the gang, Afini Paul, who is a sister to Balat Paul, the gang’s driver, said she was unaware that the gang members were kidnappers, even though she admitted that she was given N100, 000 for cooking for the two days they held the former minister in her house.
On why she did not report to the police when unknown faces were held in her residence, she admitted: “’Na fear dey catch me’, it was N50, 000 they gave to me to cook. I didn’t know they were criminals.”
On their parts, Katsina and Jatau, two Police officers dismissed last year, admitted to being dealers on stolen ammunition from police station in Kaduna and from Niger Republic.
Before the duo were rounded up in Kajuru Local Government Area in Kaduna State, Awunah stressed that the dismissed officers had involved in kidnapping and armed robbery, and have been on the wanted list of the police in the state.
He said: “These two suspects have volunteered confessional statements and admitting to the various roles they played in the commission of several kidnappings and armed robbery attacks in Kaduna and other neighbouring states.”