By Chiemelie Ezeobi in Lagos and Paul Obi in Abuja
Â After evading the law for four years, notorious kidnapping kingpin, Chukwudubem George Onwuamadike, popularly known as Evans, was finally apprehended at the weekend by the Inspector General of Police Special Intelligence Response Team (IRT).
Given his penchant for evading the law, his capture after four years of living under the radar was celebrated by the police.
Wanted in three different states â€“ Edo, Anambra and Lagos â€“ Evans was touted to be the brain behind most of the high-profile kidnappings nationwide.
Going by his police profile, Evans had been touted as the most brilliant, crafty and richest of the criminal world, thus making him a dangerous kidnapper.
Although he continuously evaded arrest for four years, he became a person of interest to the police, following his alleged involvement in the abduction of Innocent Duru, the owner of a pharmaceutical company in Ilupeju, Lagos.
After the victim fled and revealed Evansâ€™ gangâ€™s hideout, a building which belonged to the kingpin, the Lagos State Government set out to demolish the house at no 19 Ataye Street, by Lanre bus stop, New Lagos area in Igando.
But as his nefarious reign grew, the Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, had mobilised all the resources to back the IRT in making sure he was arrested. The IG also placed a N30 million bounty on his head.
Three weeks later, he was arrested by the IRT, led by Abba Kyari, an Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP), who had closely monitored his movements and everyone in contact with him.
The tireless monitoring, sleepless nights and the close marking on motorcycles finally paid off, when he was picked up in his home at Magodo estate, Lagos.
Preliminary investigations revealed that Evans had over the years collected billions of naira as ransom during his seven-year reign as the kingpin of kidnappers.
The 36-year-old native of Nnewi in Anambra State, was known for collecting ransoms in dollars and often got the family of his victims to pay as much as N300 million to N400 million to secure the release of their loved ones.
To get such huge sums as ransom, Evans usually targeted people living in Festac, Amuwo Odofin, Ikoyi, Lekki and Victoria Island in Lagos, and also extended his nefarious activities to Rivers, Bayelsa and Delta States.
He was also the mastermind behind the Â attempted kidnap of Chief Vincent Obianudo , the owner of Young Shall Grow Motors in Festac, in August 2013.
Known for his lavish lifestyle, Evans was fond of splashing his ill-gotten money on luxury goods instead of depositing the money in the bank so as not to attract attention.
Preliminary investigation further revealed that he once bought a wristwatch for $170,000, three phones for $6,000 each, two houses in Magodo Estate, and two other house in Ghana, where he is also a citizen.
Since the police started investigating him, two of his gang members had earlier been arrested with six number plates, one grass cutter, two Barreta pistols with four magazines, one army cap, two locally made leg chains, four AK47 rifles, one bullet proof vest, 59 AK47 magazines and 1,272 rounds of ammunition.
When the policemen gained access to his house in Magodo on Saturday, the suspect was said to have run to the roof of the house and engaged in a gun battle, but the policemen were able to smoke him out. A policeman was, however, injured in the process.
During the bust, the police also recovered four AK47 rifles and over 50 magazines rounds during a search of the premises.
In his confession at the command headquarters in Ikeja, the suspect said he was once an importer of spare parts before circumstances pushed him to drug peddling. He said he then graduated to armed robberies and later kidnapping.
Evans was paraded before journalists by the Force Public Relations Officer, Jimoh Moshood, a Chief Superintendent of Police (CSP), alongside six members of his gang, who were arrested with him.
The six other suspects were identified as Felix Chinemerem, Nwosu Chikodi Chukwuma, alias Sudo, Suoyo Paul, alias Nwana, Ikenna Emeka, Uchechukwu Amadi and his wife, Ogechi.
During his confession, Evans said he bought his two homes in Magodo for N130 million and N70 million, adding that he also owns two four-bedroom houses in Ghana.
He also confessed that he sent his wife away when he realised the police were closing in on him and secluded himself in his home at Magodo.
He said: â€œI was into auto spare parts importation but lost all my money (over N25 million) when Customs seized my goods. From there, I relocated to South Africa, where I started peddling drugs.
â€œBut along the line, my business partner shot me and passed me for dead. I recuperated, returned to Nigeria and decided to start kidnapping rich men for ransom.â€
He added: â€œThe highest amount I have collected was $1million from Festac. I donâ€™t know my net worth. I donâ€™t have any money in the bank. I operate only one account. I collect dollars because itâ€™s my choice.
â€œOnce the victims pay the ransom, the money goes to the people who own it. I donâ€™t have a boss but some people own the money.
â€œI have people heading different sections. There are two gangs that work for me in every operation. It is not all the time I follow them for the job. Most times, I give them instructions on the phone. The two gangs do not know themselves and none of them know my house.â€
Evans, who expressed remorse over his criminal activities, advised other criminals to learn from him and quit.
Also, in a statement yesterday, the police in a statement signed by Moshood said: â€œThe Joint Special Forces led by the Intelligence Response Team, the Lagos State Police Commandâ€™s Anti-Kidnapping Unit and Technical and Intelligent Unit of the Force under the supervision of the Commissioner of Police, Lagos State, on the 10th of June, 2017 swooped and raided the criminal fortress of Chukwudi Dumeme Onuamadike, a.k.a Evans, a native of Nnewi in Nnewi North Local Government Area of Anambra Stateâ€.
The police described him as the â€œvicious leader of a highly organised kidnap-for-ransom syndicate and criminal gang terrorising the countryâ€, adding that he was responsible for several kidnappings of prominent Nigerians in Lagos State, including in the South-west, South-east, South-south and some Northern states.
The police said Evans had active gangs spread across the mentioned states.
â€œAfter an intense gun battle between them that lasted several hours, Evans and his gang were overpowered by the superior fire power of the joint special forces and he was arrested at Magodo Estate, Ikeja Area of Lagos.
â€œEvans was first declared wanted in August, 2013 when he masterminded the attempted kidnap of Chief Vincent Obianudo, the owner of Young Shall Grow Motors in Festac, Lagos, where a policeman attached to the victim foiled the attack and killed three of Evansâ€™ gang members but also lost his life in the process.
â€œSome of Evansâ€™ gang members were subsequently arrested, but he regrouped with several gangs and became more vicious and unleashed terror in the mentioned states of the federation.
â€œEvans and his gangs kept their kidnapped victims in the Lagos Area at No. 21 Prophet Asaye Close, New Igando until the ransom was paid to him.
â€œRansom monies were paid to him in millions of dollars, while some victims were kept for upwards of six to seven months until the last penny was paid.
â€œHe never reduced his ransoms and none of his gang members knew his house.
â€œIn every kidnapping, he had a separate armed group that kidnapped victims with him and had another armed group that took over the victims to their hideouts and prevented them from escaping.
â€œMembers of the two groups did not know each other.Â They complied with Evansâ€™ instructions.
â€œEvans and the dreaded vampire who died during a gun duel with the police special forces led by IRT and the Imo State Police Command in a forest in River State early this year, were the axis of evil in kidnappings in Southern Nigeria and some Northern states.
â€œHe (Evans) has two mansions in Magodo GRA Phase 2, worth about N300,000,000. He also has two houses in a highbrow area of Accra in Ghana, among many other properties such as exotic cars, expensive watches, jewelry, etc, which he acquired from the proceeds of his criminal activities,â€ Moshood said.
Having released the details of Evansâ€™ victims and the ransom that had been paid for their release, Moshood added: â€œDuring interrogation and preliminary investigation, Evans and his gangs confessed to all the kidnappings linked to them and made confessional statements to the various roles they played in the commission of the crimes.â€
He said they would be charged to court on completion of investigation.