The suspects were arrested following reports of armed robbery and kidnapping of notable figures by hoodlums who were said to be armed with high calibre rifles.
They were identified as Abdullahi Mohammed, 35, Abubakar Abubakar, 28, Damanya Gambo, 30, Usman Idris, Usman Saidu, 30, Hassan Maikudi, 30, who allegedly led the gang to kidnap his own father and collected a ransom of N1.5million before releasing him. Others were said to have fled into the bush as the N200,000 and several charms used in evading arrest were recovered from the suspects when police swooped on them.
On their arrest, Saturday Sun learnt that the Inspector General of Police Solomon Arase deployed the Special Intelligence Response Team, SIRT, to Oyo State, to track and apprehend the culprits. The team on arriving Okeho and Iganna communities, went undercover for two weeks gathering intelligence from locals, before swooping on five members of the gang.
Most victims of the suspects were rich cattle traders residing within Iwajowa LGA and traders plying the route for business in the neighbouring Benin Republic.
At the police station, one of the suspects, Mohammad Abudulahi, a Fulani from Kwara State, who is also a graduate of Mathematics, married to two wives and has three children, said that it was his quest to be a rich man that landed him into crime.
He explained that after graduating from the university that he managed to secure a teaching job where he earned just N15,000 monthly, which he said was too poor for him. “Before I was arrested, I was a teacher and I quit my job because I wanted to join the Nigerian Army. I applied but I wasn’t admitted. I obtained an Ordinary National Diploma (OND) from Kwara State Polytechnic in Mathematics and Statistics in 2005 and I went further to obtain a BSc in Mathematics from Kwara State University and I graduated in 2009, before proceeding for National Youth Service. I started working in 2011. I got a job at a private secondary school in Okeho.
“I taught Physics and Mathematics and I earned N15000 monthly. I was very popular among most residents of the area especially people of my tribe. I grew up in that area with my parents and siblings. I was also staying there with my wives and children. Though most of my friends who knew I was well educated, knew I wasn’t making enough money from my job.
“Few years ago, two of them, Damanya and Abubakar, approached me with an idea, that since I was highly respected and well known in the community, that I could always make good money for myself, by giving them information about rich people residing in the community. I asked what they needed to do with such information, they said in most cases they will either rob or kidnap such persons. I told them that I can’t do such because my eyes are very bad, and I could barely see at night. Damanya told me that all they needed was for me to always look out for potential targets and when it is identified, in the case of kidnapping I will be on ground to gather intelligence from relatives of the victims. In other cases, he said I will have to trail and give them information on persons they want to rob,” he narrated.
Recounting some of their exploits, Abudulahi said his job of intelligence gathering led to several successful robberies and kidnappings. “We did a couple of jobs. I gave them information when they wanted to rob a cattle rearer after he has sold cattle. I informed them when the man came home and I followed him secretly until he mounted a motorcycle. I gave them that information, and by evening news went round that the man had been robbed and the money he made from the sale of his cattle was carted away. In that operation, I got N40,000 as my share of the loot.
There were several other times, when they blocked the highway leading to the border and robbed traders going for business across the border and dispossess them of their monies. When they returned, they will bring my own share; this is because they don’t want me to tell anyone who carried out those operations.
“There were several operations we did together and I usually get my share but last month they went and kidnapped on Alhaji Maikudi, who is a rich cattle rearer. It was his son, Hassan, who brought the job and I don’t know what his reason was. Hassan is also my friend, but he works with his father has a herdsman and they have several cows. He gave the information to Danmayan and they kidnapped his father and took him into the bush and kept him there for one week before a N1.5million was paid as ransom before he was released. During the operation, I was in the community monitoring what was happening. I was attending meetings and I took part in planning how we will go and look for Alhaji Maikudi. My father also took part in the search. He was also in the bush looking for Alhaji.
“Some of my gang members were also with them and they were always relaying information to those keeping Alhaji. On my part, I was always giving them information about any plan that was to be carried out in the community. At the end, Hassan ensured that the sum of N1.5million was paid as ransom after some of his father’s cattles were sold. He got N700,000 as his own share, while, I, Abubakar, Damanya and Saidu, got N200, 000 each. I had barely spent my own money when I was arrested by the police. I was picked up in a bar, where I had gone to have some drinks. The policemen were also in the bar drinking and I didn’t know that they were policemen. I liked the way they were seated and offered to buy them some drinks, but before I knew what was happening, I was arrested and whisked away. I thought the policemen were from Ibadan on routine raid and I threatened to call my lawyer, it was when I got here that I realised that I was in a deep mess. I told the police the role I played and took them to my house and handed over my N200, 000 share of the ransom.”
Another suspect, Abubakar Abubkar, also a Fulani, from Kwara State, confessed he had received N80,000 from the gang. He said: “Whenever they go for an operation they usually give me my share. It was Damanya who would instruct Abdulahi to bring the money to me. I am not into the business full time. I have my own business and I sell telephone accessories and everyone within our community knows me very well. The only job I played active role was the kidnap of Alhaji Maikudi.
It was his son, Hassan brought the deal to Damanya and they did all the preparations. Before the man was abducted, Hassan was the one who monitored the road and informed us when his father left the house and was headed to the mosque, where he was waylaid and abducted. I was also part of the search team that went into the bush to look for the man and I was always sending information to my colleagues keeping the man as we were moving.
After the operation, I learnt, I had a share of N200,000, but I didn’t get it before I was arrested. The police, I don’t know where they came from, stormed my house with a young man from our town. Though, he is not a member of our gang, he knew me very well and they arrested me. I told them all I knew and I led them to arrest others involved.”
Culled from The Sun