The first question I asked Chukwudumeje Onwuamadike, the million dollar kidnapper kingpin, better known as Evans, during a specially arranged interview was what success meant to him and here were his answers: â€œI had always believed that once you have money, you are a successful person. That was my own definition of success. It is the same with most of the people I grew up with.Â For me the source of the money is not an issue, just get the money anyhow and you are a happy man. In fact all these while, I had counted myself as a successful man because I had good money. I invested in landed property and I built houses in different parts of Nigeria.â€
And truly so while it lasted Evans lived it out as a â€œsuccessful personâ€, doling out cash to the less privileged, and in some cases gave scholarships to orphans. In the last one week or so, the office of the Lagos State Police Command, Ikeja has become a tourist centre of some sort, as people stream there to catch a glimpse of the million Dollar kidnapper. But as is always the case, Evans has since discovered the truth as stated in The Message translation of a popular Bible passage: â€œLike a cowbird that cheats by laying its eggs in another birdâ€™s nest is the person who gets rich by cheating. When the eggs hatch, the deceit is exposed. What a fool heâ€™ll look like then!â€ How did Evans, who had originally set out to be a big time importer, successfully hide his identity from his parents; his wife, his pastor, church members, his friends, his landlord and estate friends? In this specially arranged interview by Ayo Arowolo and Ezeobi Chiemelie, Evans shared some lessons that should be food for thought for all. Enjoy
Crime does not pay
I will advise anybody that is into crime to stop. Crime does not pay. I have seen it all. I have been involved in different criminal acts, including drug business, armed robbery and, of course, kidnapping. I went into crime because I wanted to make money; I wanted to be counted among the wealthy in the society. To be honest with you, I made good money. And I was even seeing myself as a successful person. I never believed that I will be arrested and be in the position I find myself today. But here I am. That is why I am now advising those out there who are still into crime to stop, go into genuine business, you can do anything so long as it is legitimate, you are not hiding from the police or any other security agency, it is better than crime. You can run for many years, but you cannot hide forever. So, I advise them to change, go to any nearby church or even a police station and do their confession there, even if you are arrested by the police because of that confession, it will not be as serious as when you are arrested committing the crime. I repeat crime does not pay.
Know the person you are living with
My parents were not fully aware of the fact that I am into kidnapping, I only told them that I was into drugs business. Even my wife is also not aware of my kind of business because at home, I am like any other husband. I go out and come back between 8pm and 9pm. The day I will be delayed I will call her and tell her that there is traffic.Â I donâ€™t sleep outside. The reason why I did not tell her what I do is that she might leave the children for me and I will not be able to take care of them. I know her family background, if I had told her, she would have told her mother whom I know will not allow her daughter to continue staying with me if she gets to know what I am doing.
But my advice is that parents and wives should get to know what their children or husbands are doing. They should ask questions, if possible use other people to investigate and find out exactly what their children are doing. You cannot be living with somebody for many years, you have never visited his business area or his office or your child just comes back bringing you gifts and large sums of money and you just collect and thank God. It is important to pay closer attention to what those around us are doing so that we can advise them.
Thereâ€™s more to success than money
I had always believed that once you have money, you are a successful person. For me the source of the money is not an issue, just get the money anyhow and you are a happy man. In fact, all these while, I have counted myself as a successful man because I have good money. I invested in landed property and I built houses in different parts of Nigeria. I thought I was a happy man. But then, I was always hiding, I was not really free. But my mind didnâ€™t go to the fact that what I had was false happiness. However, with what has happened to me I can now see that it is not all about having money, especially when such money is coming through crime, it doesnâ€™t pay, there are other things that make up a successful life. One of that, I believe, is a good name. As I speak with you now, I am still wondering how my children will look at me, what they will say about their father. What I have done in the name of trying to make money has stained them permanently and that is going to affect them in the future. There are other things that make up a successful life
A broken home affects the children
I am not close to my father because when we were small, he was not giving us attention. He was not providing for us, he was not paying our school fees or even feeding us, in fact he neglected us, but I have forgiven him.
My mother did not even help matters, she left my father and us for about 10 years when we were still small. She was not there for us because she had issues with my father, the lessons we would have learnt, the pieces of advice that we would have had, we did not have. We didnâ€™t get the loving care of a happy home. It was my grandmother that trained me. There were six of us from my own motherâ€™s side, four boys and two girls, I am the eldest. The result of that broken home was that each of us was left to fend for himself at early age and we all wanted to make money anyhow. There was no body to counsel us or show us the right thing to do.
So, I advise parents to do everything to protect their home. It is a sacrifice they have to make for the sake of their children.
Donâ€™t just give your house to anyone
It is true that somebody like me, you canâ€™t suspect me for anything because I am a very gentle and easy going person. I am also very friendly with those in my neighbourhood, so it is difficult to suspect that I could have any criminal intents, but it is very important that if somebody comes to rent your house, after the person has filled the form with the agent and given information about himself, it is important that you go behind and investigate to make sure the information he gave you is correct. You can go to where he said he is working and cross-check, check the people he is using as guarantors, get as much information on the person as possible before giving out your house to the person. Even after you have given the house to the person, you should visit the house every two months to know what is happening there.
Be good to people
I donâ€™t donate money to the church; I donâ€™t give money like that. I have many widows and orphans who do not have anybody supporting them; they are the people I give money to. I pay their school fees, their house rent, medical bills. I have people on my scholarship; I have about 10 or more from different families that I pay their school fees. It is not only in Magodo area where I live but also in the east.
I am not a worker in the church because that is not the only way to serve God, you can serve God anywhere. Now you said some people are calling for my release, I donâ€™t even know the people, I didnâ€™t give them anything, I am sure many of them donâ€™t even know me. Who knows, it could be because of those I am helping or they were just moved by the way my children were crying. I donâ€™t know them. Well, God bless them. I also believe what has protected me all these while has been my goodness to people. My joy is that I donâ€™t like shedding blood, among all the people that we kidnapped, we didnâ€™t kill any.
Take responsibility for your action
I am not aware that some people are asking that I should be released. I donâ€™t think anybody should make such request, it is not possible now. I committed crime, I have to face the charges, and I have to pay for the crime I committed. But I know there is something like pardon. I canâ€™t imagine somebody asking that I should be released. But if there is, God will bless such people and for those who are saying I should be killed, God will bless them too. I wonâ€™t blame anyone because I have offended many Nigerian citizens. I only hope and pray that I should get a second chance so that I can correct the mistakes I made.
I also want my brothers and sisters to pray for me that I should be given a second chance to correct my mistakes. I know that if I am allowed to go, I will be a changed person.
It doesnâ€™t really matter what my plans are, God is the one that will determine what I can do. Yes, I want to be a spare parts dealer God may have a different plan for me. I can be a danfo driver tomorrow and make it from there. As far as I am concerned, I am ready to start life all over again.
My greatest regret is that I have put my family to shame. I wonder how my children will take it. I have been having sleepless nights because of what this will do to them and how it will affect them in the future. I have very young children; the oldest is 11 while the youngest is two.
If I have opportunity to talk to them I would ask for their forgiveness and that they should take heart. This is not the way I planned it. That if I do not love them, I would have left the country first and they would be the ones to be arrested, but I let them travel first while I waited behind.
The lesson I want them to learn from my experience is that they should not even try this kind of life. I have said it before that crime does not pay. It doesnâ€™t matter what you are doing as long as it has nothing to do with crime, it is better and it gives you rest of mind and you can move freely. I want my children not to follow my footsteps because it is not a right step. I had actually thought I will one day return to genuine business but everything has scattered now.