The Lagos State Police Command says it has smashed a kidnapping syndicate in the Okokomaiko area of the state.
Police authorities gave the names of the suspects as, Azuoma Nwabugoh, Chimobi Onuoha, Moses Okoh, Nwachukwu Nwandike and Michael Arinze.
PUNCH Metro learnt that the suspects were arrested after policemen attached to Ilemba Hausa Division recovered a vehicle belonging to a kidnap victim, Obinna Okpara.
It was learnt that after kidnapping the victim, the suspects allegedly sold the car to one Michael Arinze.
Police Public Relations Officer, Ngozi Braide, told PUNCH Metro that Arinze led police to the kidnappers.
She said, “On August 8, 2013, around 8.45pm, one Obinna Okpara was kidnapped in front of his house at Awka, Anambra State. He was released on September 9, 2013 after a ransom was paid.
“His vehicle was, however, traced to the house of one Michael Arinze at Etegbin Road, Ajangbadi, Lagos. Upon interrogation, Arinze said he bought the vehicle from one of the suspects.
“He said the vehicle, a black Toyota RAV4 with registration number, ABN 42 AA, was sold to him for N800,000, adding that he paid N50,000 as down payment.”
“The Divisional Police Officer, Ilemba Hausa, SP Ekpashere Ibe, sent his men to the houses of each of the suspects, who are all residing in the Okokomaiko area.”
The suspects, it was learnt, had been transferred to the Special Anti-Robbery Squad, Ikeja.
The victim, who spoke to our correspondent after writing his statement at SARS, said he was locked and blindfolded in a toilet for over a week.
He said the suspects kidnapped him in Anambra State and released him in Enugu State after paying N2.5m ransom.
He said, “Around 7.45pm on August 26, 2013, some men with guns blocked my vehicle and started shooting into the air.
“They drove me to a building and locked me inside the toilet after which they blindfolded me. Two days after my arrival, a female victim was brought into the toilet where I was.
“Unfortunately, the woman was on her menstrual cycle and she spilled blood all over the floor. The kidnappers fed me with rice once a day and gave me one sachet water.”
The victim said after some days, the woman’s family was able to pay a ransom and she was released. He said he remained in the kidnapper’s den for extra days.
“My family was instructed to place the ransom in a bush and I was released but my vehicle was not returned to me. When I came out, I realised that I was in Enugu State,” he added.
The alleged leader of the kidnappers, Nwabugo, denied participating in the crime.
Nwabugoh said he did not know the victim and pleaded with the police to allow him go back to his three children and pregnant wife.
He said, “All these allegations against me are false. I don’t know the victim.
“I am a trader at Alaba Market and most of the suspects you see are my apprentices.”
Another suspect, Onuoha, owned up to the crime, adding that it was him and Nwabugoh that executed the kidnapping. He said he was given only N30, 000 from the operation.
He said, “My boss (Nwabugoh) brought the guns and we went to kidnap the victim. My boss drove the man to an undisclosed place in the man’s jeep while I followed in another car.
“It was when my boss returned to Lagos that he gave me the victim’s vehicle to sell to Arinze. Arinze gave me N50,000 and I handed it over to my boss. My boss then gave me N30, 000.”
The remaining suspects said they did not know anything about the crime, adding that they were apprentices.