- Before you continue, please read Kidnapping in Nigeria by Alan Chibuike
Day 1: The Snatch (Saturday evening, July 20)
The victim was snatched on Saturday evening at Okosi area of Onitsha, Anambra state around 4pm. He was driving home with a friend in his Land Cruiser when they were ambushed by heavily armed men. They were taken hostage and their identities confirmed, and a call was put across to someone to confirm the mark. They later let his friend go.
Professional kidnappers don’t just decide to go on a hunt and pick a random mark. They are risking their lives and have spent resources acquiring ammunition and won’t pick on one they are not sure of getting money from. Something attracts them to the mark; your car, where you work, family background, careless talk about money and insiders. Most kidnappings have insiders who could be your friend, relative, colleague, neighbour or bank account officer. The unsuccessful February kidnap attempt had a neighbour as one the conspirators. Most times before they attack, kidnappers spend some time trailing their victims to know the best area or time to strike.
Day 2 (Sunday evening, July 21)
We were in Lagos and totally unaware of the incident until Sunday morning. My sister, the victim’s wife, was leaving Lagos for her base in Onitsha when a call came in asking, ‘if the news they heard in Onitsha was true’, she probed further and was told about the kidnap. She immediately sent an SMS to me and I asked her to come over at once. We put a call through to relatives in Onitsha who confirmed same.
We later learnt from the other occupant in the victim’s car that the snatchers let him go after he told the armed men he was a surveyor and had no money, while the victim told the armed men he was ready to cooperate, offering them 5 million naira.
Those people you know who usually call first to confirm the information or have firsthand information on how the snatch happened are actually working with kidnappers. Though not always the case, but be careful. The usual goal of such first callers is to ensure they inform the family just in case you haven’t heard of the kidnap. They also seek to create an impression of care and trust so you can disclose all information and plans to them which they promptly pass on to the kidnappers, letting them know if you are cooperating or not and how they can put pressure on you to cooperate.
Now we had confirmation he was missing, we started calling the victim’s phone lines but both were switched off.
All through Sunday there was no call from the kidnappers.
This we learnt was normal, their goal is to keep incommunicado to feed your fear and anxiety, which pushes one to accept whatever demands later made. Also, the group that makes the snatch isn’t normally the same group/person that handles negotiations. Any gun wielding thug can make the snatch, but they require the kingpins who are their brains to handle negotiations and coordinate payment. Kingpins are the wealthy fronts, they are intelligent and well connected to lawyers, the police and politicians. They don’t participate in the snatch but handle financing and collections.
To be continued…
Written by Alan Chibuike
On twitter @bykx4