By OKOSUN DENNIS
RECENTLY, the activities of kidnappers have assumed a monumental dimension as they abduct their victims with little or no resistance by the security agencies or members of the public.
This has been made possible due to the clandestine method they adopt before seizing their unsuspecting victims.
Investigations revealed that the criminals have perfected strategies that make it difficult for member of the public to suspect them before they attack their victims hence they have recorded huge success when they carry out their noxious acts.
By estimation, close to N1 billion have been expended as payment for ransom to these criminal gangs by individuals whose parents, children and siblings were kidnapped, companies whose staff members were victims or even governments at all levels that had very important citizens on national assignment kidnapped.
As this act persists with no obvious solution to stop them from carrying out more kidnappings and abductions, National Daily x-rays some of the tricks use by these criminal gangs they used in recent past to kidnap their victims.
Investigations revealed that one of the potent tricks kidnappers have used to their own advantage was using their vehicle to hit a victim’s which compels him or the driver to stop to find out if there was any damage. In the process of doing that, the criminal would swoop on such person and whisk him to their den until ransom is paid to secure his/her release.
A victim who spoke with National Daily anonymously revealed how kidnappers hit his car from behind just as he was trying to navigate into his estate at Isheri early this year.
“When the car hit me from behind, I came down to see the extent of damage and realised that it was not too much. They also came down to beg for forgiveness unknown to me that they were actually kidnappers. Just as I moved into my car, other occupants in their car pounced on me and bundled me into their car and zoomed off.
“That was how I started the journey into the den of kidnappers until my elder brother paid N3m to secure my release from their den,” he narrated.
Findings also revealed that in order to get into their victims, the criminal become friendly with his victim thereby luring him/her with freebies like biscuit and sweet. They have used this to abduct children in Lagos and some other parts of the country.
A kidnapper was arrested for abducting two children aged six and four years old at Igando area of Lagos recently after he had successfully lured them with biscuit.
He confessed, “I told the children that I will buy them biscuit and they followed me to where I gave them out to a woman at Akesan bus stop, Igando. I went with the woman and the children to a prophet who asked me to pay N6, 000 for a charm that would enable me bring them more children without being caught.” he said.
It was also gathered that another ploy employed by kidnappers was resorting to the use of charms to hypnotise their victim or guardian before taking them away seamlessly.
This played out recently when a 42-year-old, Mrs Nimotu Raheem, was arrested in Itire-Ikate area of Surulere after clandestinely deceiving the mother of three children and kidnapped them in an Arabic School.
She kidnapped the kids, Taiye and Kehinde, four years and another 16 months old boy Fatai Adeola. The suspect demanded for the kids from the mother without any objection.
The grandparent who saw the manner the woman gave out the children without resistance raised alarm. When she spoke, the mother of the children, one Temilola Adeola said the suspect used charm to take his son away from her in the Arabic school.
As kidnapper prey into everywhere for their victims, they are looking for the slightest flaw on the part of the parents to swoop on their kids. It was also gathered that they do that so much in places of worship where children are detached from parents and kept in teenage classes.
A four-year-old girl Oluwabunmi Ajelero was kidnapped at the Surulere Baptist Church in 2015 and was abandoned in another church in Abeokuta, Ogun State.
The father of the girl had told National Daily that the little girl was playing with other children in the church premises when the kidnapper, sensing that the parents wasn’t there and attentive got into the premises through the back down and tricked her out before whisking her away on a motorcycle.
Before they whisked her away, the captors pretended to be members of the church and established rapport with children in the church.
Since getting result and ultimately paid ransom is the primary motive of kidnapping, the criminals have stopped at nothing as they have recently used close associate, driver, maid and other auxiliary workers to kidnap either the boss or any of the children.
This happens in most of recent kidnap cases across the country. The kidnap of Ubaka Okeke, the Executive Officer of GUO Motors was orchestrated by the help of personal aid; a security guard. The security man, a member of Onitsha North Vigilante Operatives, was posted out to another beat but was still visiting the house. He was said to have visited the compound barely a week or two before the kidnap to see a fellow vigilante operatives.
Just as their tricks seem inexhaustible, investigation also revealed that most people are vulnerable and become victims of kidnap after they might have been sacked as a worker.
They collude with outsiders to kidnap their former boss for ransom or to punish him/her for sacking such person from work. Most victims have been killed in the process.
Recently, one Abbas Mohammed was arrested at Asokoro, Abuja for sending several threat messages to the Ukranian Ambassador to Nigeria. It was revealed that the suspect was formerly employed by the embassy as a driver but he began threatening his former employer after losing his job arising from observed gross acts of insubordination from him to his employers.
Another trick which has become a common place is to attack people they suspected to be affluent, individuals they feel they can milk some money from. Investigation revealed that everybody irrespective of societal status is a victim. One Samuel Asuquo, a kidnap kingpin was arrested by the Department of State Security (DSS) at Nasarawa Bakoko village in Cross River State after he masterminded the kidnap of three Australian staff of Lafarge Cement Company and got N150m ransom.
A taxi driver was recently robbed and kidnapped by a woman who had pretended to be pregnant not knowing that it was a phantom pregnancy. The driver, out of sympathy assisted to help her only to have ended up kidnapped for ransom after.
Police investigations also revealed that kidnappers, abductors and even ritualists use innocent children to get to their victims. It was further gathered that they use a child who will be crying with an address in his hand asking for direction. The moment a Samaritan assist to locate the address, such person would be kidnapped.
Mrs Elisha told National Daily how she was kidnapped while in a taxi from the hospital to her house at Lekki and relived of everything she had on her.
It was gathered that their newest trick is to use unpainted Lagos Taxi colour for transportation; most times, plying busy routes without people suspecting them. Once they grab a victim, they divert their route while holding their victim incommunicado until they establish contact with relatives who pay some money to them before releasing the victim. In addition, they relieve their victim of everything with them.
“I boarded a taxi and headed home from the hospital in Victoria Island only for the driver to divert to another road until I found myself at Mowe. I was relieved of everything I had on me. It wasn’t a pleasant experience,” she revealed.
It was further gathered that one viable source of knowing people and how connected or influential they are, was through the social media platform Facebook, Whatsapps and Instagram. It was learnt that they download people’s profile pictures, siblings and children which they use to trace them.
Investigation revealed that as people upload various pictures of themselves for fun, criminal gang make friends with them; exchange pleasantries until such a time they are friendly enough to disclose personal information. With such details sieved, they use it to their advantage as they often trace such innocent victim to spots where they are kidnapped for ransom.
A security expert who spoke to National Daily anonymously said some Nigerians should be mindful of personal pictures they post on social media as criminals have resorted to getting useful information from the platform to their own advantage.