Day 5: Wednesday, July 24
8:30pm negotiator called asking if we were ready to mourn the victim since we were yet to raise the ransom.
*call trace: Umu Obiogo road, Ozoro, Delta state*
From the call trace we deduced that the negotiator was not in same location with the gang. We also concluded the victim was most likely being held in Ihiala. We also received reports that the recharge cards we sent was used by 5.59pm on 22/07/13 by a female resident of Azia, Ihiala. Her name and photograph was provided via registered SIM database.
Also a strange text message was received from a number unknown to us: “GUY PLS TRY AND CORPERATE WITH HIM HE IS A GOOD GUY THANKS GOD“. We called the number and he said he was only a sympathizer. Call trace pinpointed the exact address text originated from which was Omogba in Onitsha. It’s a shame the police in Anambra are not effective, all the leads we had gotten from private resources were not put to any use by them.
Day 6: Thursday, July 25
We decided that one of the family members should travel to Anambra to coordinate affairs and also get available funds together for the ransom if it came to that. That night the negotiator called to ask if ransom was ready. We informed him we had only 6 million naira and all he said was: “you have finished yourself” and the line went dead. His goal was to push the panic button. One thing you should realise is that for a kidnapper, the victim is an asset. They expend resources acquiring this asset and their sponsors expect a return on the investments made acquiring guns, bullets, bribes & protection money paid to police and voodoo priests. Killing the asset without first securing a ransom is very bad for them, leaves them indebted to sponsors.
A call came in later that night from an unknown number, we didn’t answer.
Day 7: Friday, July 26
No calls came from the negotiator but we received several calls from an ‘unknown number’, the urge to answer was immense but resisted.
Day 8: Saturday, July 27
All this while the Church Council in my local church, The Latter Rain Assembly, and brethren were all praying intensely. I remember being visited by a brother who came to pray with me in the morning. While praying he gave a narrative of 4 lepers in the 2 Kings 7 then told me God would cause the kidnappers to flee from the victim.
We were scheduled for a meeting with the OC SARS & PC of Anambra state at Akwa by 2pm. While on our way, a call came in. Caller said he was with the victim at the Catholic hospital in Ihiala. That victim had a bullet wound but was responding to treatment.
We quickly got together Mobile Police teams to escort us to the hospital.
7pm We saw the victim wounded but alive, he manage to escape the den of killers with a bullet wound.
HOW HE ESCAPED
Victim said was kept in the boot of his SUV and driven around while the kidnappers hunted for another victim. After 3 days he was taken to a house inside a bush that served as their hideout. Another man was held with him, a Catholic reverend Father.
He said the first thing they did after he was captured and after collecting all cash and jewelry he had on him was to go through his phone and emails searching for bank alerts and anything relating to his finances. They also took his cheque booklets and every document he had in his vehicle. This also should serve as a caution to us all – delete bank SMS alerts & email statements after reading them. He is a business man and unfortunately had a couple of emails and text messages that pointed to his worth. That plus the value kidnappers placed on his SUV convinced them they could get a huge ransom.
While in captivity he was tied to a chair but not blindfolded. He was never fed, only given water occasionally. He wasn’t tortured and the only time he was untied was to use the loo. Also they were taken to a part of the house where a grave was dug to show them where they would be buried.
He said all the gangsters ever did whenever they were at the hideout was smoke weed, inject themselves with hard drugs and recount tales of policemen they killed or success they had. They had a box filled with all sorts of charms which gave them confidence of their invisibility to law enforcement.
Early hours on Saturday July 27
The other members of the gang left for an operation. They left 3 members behind to guard them and only one of the 3 had a weapon – an assault rifle AK-47. The Reverend Father was the first to notice this and suggested to him that they take on the 3 guards. The victim agreed to take his chances so they hatched a plan. They agreed to ask to be taken to the loo and when their bonds were loosened they would fight and disarm their captors. Since the victim was tall and huge it was agreed he would take on the armed guard while the Father takes on the other 2. The plan worked except that as soon as the victim attacked the armed guard, the Reverend Father rather than attack the other 2, decided to make his escape leaving the victim alone to slug it out with the 3 gangsters.
The victim was able to fight off and disarm the gang, the only problem was that he didn’t know how to shoot an AK 47. He cocked it, took aim and pulled the trigger but nothing happened (that was because the safety latch was on, also makes a good case for why you should learn to use assault weapons – YouTube is good resource).
It didn’t take the 3 long to notice he couldn’t use the gun so they pursued him. He ran, got to the fence, dropped the gun and tried to leaped over. The gang caught up with him, picked the gun and shot at him. God helped him, only a bullet hit him and it went in through his buttocks and got out through the groin region. No bones or organs were touched, only body tissues. He fell from the fence into the forest and ran for dear life. For one who was kept unfed for 5 days and bleeding, only God could have granted him strength. He said he ran till he passed out in the forest, he didn’t know how long he was out but he was awaken by rain showers which provided him strength to continue till he came to a village where he saw people and houses.
He started screaming and soliciting help, knocking on doors and crying but none would come near him or even assist him. He sat on the road weeping, beckoning on them, in his tears he asked if they were this wicked in their village, if all they would do was to watch him bleed to death. Then an elderly brave woman walked up to him and asked who he was and where he came from. He gave her his name and origin and the woman screamed because she knew the family. She called her son asking him to alert the local vigilante. They were the ones who took him to the hospital, her son was the one who called us.
I believe in God who does miracles and in my opinion this was one big miracle.
It didn’t end there.
Greed For Gain
Monday July 29th We got a call from the negotiator. They thought the victim probably died from gunshot wounds and assumed we were still in the dark. He called and this time was sounding desperate to collect whatever we raised. We played along informing him we told him we had only 6 million naira. He said we should try to make it up to 10 million naira so he could release the victim, that he was in much suffering.
As mentioned earlier, not collecting ransom is a huge setback for kidnappers. Their backers may think the gang is keeping back their cut and this comes with fatal outcomes. They do all they can to get some returns on their evil investments.
His call became more frequent in the next few days but shamefully Anambra Police were reluctant to follow-up. All they said was that since victim is now safe there was no point pursuing it further. Eventually word got out that victim had escaped so the negotiator stopped calling, but it didn’t end here either.
Victim got a call from the his bank, an individual had presented a cheque from “him” for 9 million naira. The was written in favour of an aluminium frames company with an office in Iyana Ipaja. The cheque was presented to a branch of his bankers in Lagos. Kidnapper had documents from him so they could forge his signature, also the victim was yet to recover his phone line, so the kidnappers could act as him to confirm cheque should be paid. However, because we had blocked all his accounts while he was still missing, any activity on any of his accounts was flagged by the banks. The bank didn’t pay, told him to return another day.
Also we engaged a new team of dedicated policemen from a different State Command.
August 29 the individual that presented the cheque was arrested.
Sunday September 29
Kingpin/negotiator was arrested in Ketu area of Lagos after a manhunt. As I stop here their SIM cards are being analysed and other members of the gang are hunted down.
Just like my dear friend said: “thank GOD it ended well”
Install trackers on your vehicles, they make life easier in crisis.
Smartphones come installed with trackers/locators, learn to use them.
Always copy your phones IMEI (can’t disclose why here).
Do not purchase pre-registered SIM cards.
Always destroy phone recharge cards after use.
Share as much financial details as you can with your spouse or trusted next of kin, it can save you a lot of trouble.
Help the wounded.
Have a relationship with God, it pays.
Written and experienced by Alan Chibuike
On twitter @bykx4