with Eddy Odivwri
Early this week, the news about the eventual arrest of the billionaire kidnapper broke.
Until his celebrated arrest, not much was known about him in the public domain.
While I join in the ecstasy of this â€œbreakthroughâ€ in crime bursting, I am deeply worried about a system that allows such a dye-in-the-wool criminal to have a free unchecked reign for over seven years. Once upon a time, we had a notorious armed robber, Lawrence Anini who shook the whole country from defunct Bendel State. I recall also another terrible kidnapper, Osisi kaâ€™nkwu who operated in the Aba axis. A day came and they met their waterloo.
But first, I must commend the police for not â€œwastingâ€ Evans, because if he had been killed in a â€œgun duelâ€, many of what we are hearing now will never have been known.
I saw the picture of Mr. Chukwudi Dumeme Onuamadike a.k.a Evansâ€™ wife and childrenâ€”how well nourished they look, at our collective expense.
From his royal fortress in highbrow Magodo district to the exotic furniture and fittings in his house, plus the luxurious cars, it is clear, Evans was living large. He had taste, many have said.
The Police themselves have described him as a very clever criminal; one who managed to evade(?) arrest for over seven years, whilst he dwelt amongst the people.
The account of how eventually he was arrested is most intriguing. If the police had delayed 30 more minutes, Evans would have vanished again, as he was duly awaiting an Uber cab he had called to take him to the airport, as he was billed to travel out of the country, that afternoon. It is even more significant however to note that it had to take the coming of the special IG squad all the way from Abuja, for Evans to be nabbed. Surely, there is absolute truth in the saying that many days are for the thief, but one day is for the owner. That â€˜one dayâ€™ came last Saturday.
And that is my first point of worry: this is an international criminal as records show that he had operated in Ghana, South Africa and Nigeria. How come he is always going through immigration uncaught? Or is there no inter-agency cooperation between the police and other security agencies? Could his name not have been flagged? Or is it that the Police did not know his real name?
The other concern is how such a net-worth criminal (said to be worth N5billion) operates bank accounts successfully without being tracked by the system. Who were his bankers? Who were his Account officers? What information did he fill in his account opening forms? Did the banks verify the information? Pray, what happened to the integrity check of BVN (Bank Verification Number)? And what happened to the KYC (Know Your Customer) policy of the banks? Were the banks simply carried away by the huge cash he deposited with them without caring who he is or what he does?
Here was a kidnapper that charged ransom in dollars. Shouldnâ€™t the changing of $1 million into naira, for instance, trigger some suspicion, even in the Black market? Where are the DSS operatives that should undertake undercover services in such sectors?
Relatedly, Evans is said to have many exotic cars. In whose name and address were those cars registered?
For seven years, the police have been on his trail. How many times had he driven past police checkpoints those seven years? With an almost unknown face, it is not impossible he had been hailed as â€œBabaâ€ several times by policemen at checkpoints, especially if he once dazzled them with a sheet of $100 bill, as he drives through with his arms and perhaps plus his victims in the trunk of the car.
I would not have been surprised if Evans had policemen as his bodyguards or security guards. Few years ago, a notorious criminal who was arrested at a party in Sapele, Delta State, actually had policemen as his bodyguards, even at the party where he was arrested. Indeed, I dare think that Evans had been that elusive because he had some â€œfriends/alliesâ€ in the police force who are modern day DSP Iyamu (remember him and the Anini saga in defunct Bendel State?) I suspect he may yet name them in his running confessions.
Part of why Evans is said to be very clever is how he manages his various gangs so neatly that they neither know themselves nor even know where he lives. He had seven phones with which he coordinated his nefarious activities. Each gang had a phone attached to it, just as a phone was dedicated to his family. He never mixed the phones. He could never be called. He alone called whomever he wanted. These are curious indicators to telecoms operators, if their eyes are not so fixated on fleecing Nigerians. So how could he also not be traced by the NCC and the various telcos? In this era of SIM card registration, how could Evans have registered seven or more SIMS without a trace of his real name and identity? What ID cards was he presenting for those SIM registration? Surely, in a more adept system, Evans wouldnâ€™t have survived even outsmarting the telecoms companies altogether?
It is part of urban malaise that city dwellers hardly know themselves. Were it not so, Evansâ€™ neighbours on his street would have decoded who he is. Yes, a lot of criminal activities are camouflaged with the bland description of Businessman, yet a little care would have revealed a hint about Evansâ€™ deadly business.
But if the neighbours could not decode him, how come the Land registry also failed to do that? The narrative is that he bought the Magodo mansions. Does the Lagos State government not have or keep the record of who owns what in the state? What is the essence of the several property enumeration exercises of the state government? Indeed, whose name is recorded against the properties found to have been owned by Evans? Does the Land Use Charge of the Lagos State government not apply to those houses?
His criminal sophistry is also manifest in his maintaining a camp for his victims in far-flung Igando, on the outskirt of Lagos, far from his Magodo abode, where he is said to â€œstockâ€ his victims for as long as seven months until every kobo of the ransom is paid. Such a hard driver! So who is the landlord of that house who didnâ€™t care about who his tenant is/was?
And pray, was PHCN not sending electricity bill to the mansions of Evans? What are the names on those bills? What about LAWMA? Was Evans disposing his refuse by himself? Was LAWMA not servicing him? How was he paying?
Trite as it may seem, it still needs to be asked: how was Evans getting arms and ammunition that easily? One of the gang members had said he it was that Evans always called upon when he needs arms, as he (Evans) often directed him to Bayelsa to get more arms. Those arms will be moved from Bayelsa to Lagos, and there will be no police interception! This same year, there have been two main arms importations through the Tin Can port in Lagos. The fact that the criminals dared to route such illegal weapons through the nationâ€™s ports bespeaks of the decadence in the system. Some of the importers were only charged to court few days ago.
It is clear from all the foregoing that the absence of reliable database in Nigeria is indirectly aiding and abetting crime. The need for a comprehensive database for all Nigerians cannot be over emphasised. Nigeria has attempted this exercise twice or so in the last ten years with no visible success.
Finally, is it not remarkable that the various Evansâ€™ gangs that operated in various towns and cities are almost all his kinsmen, including even the woman who cooks for the kidnap victims?
Did you hear that contrary to media reports , that Mrs Aisha Buhari was not allowed to see her husband during her recent visit to London?
(clasping his hands on his face) Telephone without wire! Who told you that? Stop all these your chun-chun-chun, you are not a woman.
But thatâ€™s what I read from those people living opposite the savannah. And I have even wondered why Mrs Buhari is here distributing cartons of Indomie to IDPs while her husband is withering away in a London hospital.
I said stop this your chun-chun-chun. If you like believe everything you read from those people. It will put you in trouble one day. Your duty is to pray for the quick and perfect recovery of Mr President.
Ok, Did you follow the twist and turns that led to the discharge and acquittal of the Senate President? Is this country not so funny?
What is funny about it? Is it not the judiciary? Donâ€™t you know that the axe can swing to any side? Funny indeed! Why donâ€™t you start laughing?
You donâ€™t understand. This is a case that has been running for almost two years with so much melodrama and hype. Just when many thought the prosecution is tightening the noose around Saraki whom many believe is not exactly clean, the same CCT which had been blowing hot steam about the trial, turns around to say the prosecution could not prove anything against the number three citizen, and so discharges and acquits him. So case closed!
If the allegations couldnâ€™t be proved why wonâ€™t case close? Do you have superior information to nail the senate president?
Me? What do I know? Am I from Kwara? We leave everything to God, the ultimate judge.
But is it true that Nigeria will get out of recession before the year runs out? I canâ€™t see any such sign o. Things are even getting more expensive in the market. Inflation is increasing. I donâ€™t even believe all those their misleading economic projections anymore. More and more families are finding it difficult to feed their children. Looks like our problems have gone spiritual.
Stop believing abstract things. By the third quarter Nigeria will climb out of recession.
Thatâ€™s what they said. Didnâ€™t you hear South Africa just slipped into recession? If fire can burn the tortoise with the iron coat, what will it do the hen with the feathery gown?
What are you implying? Who is tortoise and who is hen?
Leave that thingâ€¦. Who statistics epp?
But talking seriously, is it true that Hausa boys will pursue Igbo people away from the north in three monthsâ€™ time?
Donâ€™t mind those misguided youths. They are talking balderdash. Canâ€™t you see how everybody has rebuked them and condemned their utterance? It is arrant nonsense. And nobody will tolerate that stoking of fire of disintegration.
This is not matter of speaking grammar-o. Those Hausa boys, hmmmm, when their eyes get red, they see everybody as suya-o.
That will not happen. Didnâ€™t you hear the Acting President warn them seriously against hate speeches and violent tendencies?
That was said in Abuja. The understanding in Kano is not the same thing. As for me, I think the answer to these endless threats and unrest is proper restructuring of this country.
That has to be done through a referendum
What rubbish referendum? How many National conferences have recommended restructuring to no avail? Canâ€™t you see that all Nigerians are not feeling equal and that is why there is a hue and cry for restructuring which is the only guaranty to justice and peace? How can you explain that the whole South-east region has just five states and 95 local Government Areas, whereas, Kano State alone has 44 Local Government areas? Isnâ€™t that the reason the north has much more federal constituencies than the South and so has more members in the Federal House of Representatives? Is that fair? Canâ€™t you see that it is issues like this are the cause of the endless agitations?
But the answer does not lie in secession or breaking away. It is foolhardy to settle for such shenanigan.
You call it shenanigan. The people call it oppression and unfair treatment. Everybody wants to feel equal. In the Nigerian project, there is no junior partner. Not even the so-called minorities are junior partners, especially as it pleased God to deposit the livewire of the nation in their land.
Look, the time for restructuring is now. There is no better time. The clock is twice right in a day. Let me warn that nobody tests the depth of a river with the two legs at once. Any other thing apart from restructuring is chasing of shadow.
Ok. Let us wait for Mr President to return.
But I say the time is now! Not tomorrow!