By Esther Nworie
The Ebonyi State Police Command has shot dead two suspected kidnappers and arrested three other kidnap suspects during a gun battle in two separate kidnap cases in the state.
In one of the cases, three businesspersons from Enugu who went to do their business in Ezzagu, Ishielu local government area of the state were kidnapped by the village executives and held hostage for three days.
In the other kidnap case, a man in Awugu, Enugu state was kidnapped and whisked to Ikwo area of the state where the hoodlums reportedly collected N1milion ransom.
After collecting the ransom, the kidnappers reported gave their victim N5,000 as transport to return home to Enugu.
However, luck ran out of them when police got wind of the incident and stormed Ikwo community but the suspects fled leaving their victim’s vehicle and the N1million.
The police said operatives later arrested one of the suspects identified as Raphael Nworie from Nkanu East Enugu.
Raphael, a taxi driver who confessed to the crime, said he was apprehended by villagers after he had escaped during a shootout with police operatives.
The suspect disclosed that it was his first kidnap case since joining the business two weeks ago, adding that their victim had already paid N1 million ransom before police closed on them.
“We kidnapped one man in Awgu, Enugu state on 24th July and brought him to Ikwo, Ebonyi state so that he will not know where we came from. On our way going back, we parked on the road before police started shooting at us and we all entered the bush.
“In the morning, when I came out to find my way, I was caught by the villagers. Three others are still on the run; I was the only one that was arrested. It is one of us that know Ikwo and we decided to bring the man to Ikwo.
“The man gave us N1million cash as ransom and the money is in the man’s vehicle we kidnapped him with. We abandoned the money inside the vehicle and fled when we exchanged fire with the police. I have been in this business since two weeks and this is the first time we are kidnapping a victim.
“The man had food in his booth. When we dropped him in Ikwo, we gave him N5,000 and water. The man’s name is Obasi Chigozie. We forced the man to give us his ATM pin number and he released it to us. We then went to POS and withdrew the N1million.
“I am a taxi driver and it is one of my friends that introduced me into this business of kidnapping. He told me to join the business that I will be making more money.”
On the alleged kidnap at Ishielu, one of the accused, Nonso Ugboh, said the three businessmen were kidnapped after they attempted to run with villagers’ money the victims collected through a Ponzi scheme in the community.
Nonso Ugboh said “there were some persons from Enugu who came to our community to sell some goods including noodles, pampers and others. Later they said they needed a house to rent. I rented house for them and when they entered the house, they said they are now into another business. They claimed when you give them N1000, in five days time, they will give you N1,500 and I gave them N3,000 to make N5,500
“When they finished collecting all the monies from our people, they wanted to run away. My villagers held them that they should bring their monies and started beating them. After beating them, they took them inside one house and told them they should refund all the monies they collected before releasing them.
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“We held them hostage and demanded ransom from them to balance the people in our community they collected money from. We took them to the bush we call Sambisa and held three of them hostage.
“I am the PRO of Eguobodo United in our community and I am the one that was in charge of their hostage taking and I am the one that introduced them to my community.
“They were to pay N200,000 before they would be released. We commanded the fair guy among the three persons to have sex with the lady that came with them to do their business and they had sex in our presence. I disguised as a mad man and collected the ransom on the three persons.
The State Police Public Relations Officer, DSP Loveth Odah, who paraded the suspects, said Obasi Chigozie who became sick following the incident has since been reunited with his family.
She disclosed that efforts were on to rescue the girl that is held hostage in the forest in Ezzagu.
Odah, said the Enugu suspects will be returned to Enugu for prosecution after preliminary investigation in Ebonyi.