The holy book talks about a brother betraying a brother to death. The unbelievable case of two blood brothers, same father, same mother, conspiring with other gang-members, one of whom is still at large, to kidnap their younger brother, same father, same mother, and threatening to kill him and use him for rituals if their grandfather refuses to pay N7 million, comes as a typical example of the kind of thing that the Bible is talking about in Mark 13:12.
And, to think that the brothers involved, the abductors and the abducted, are orphans as they lost their parents, father and mother, some years ago, goes a long way in even deepening the mystery surrounding the story. Their grandfather, the police operatives who apprehended the two brothers and their gang members recently and revealed the hidden truth about the arranged kidnap, neighbours, relations and acquaintances who know about the case find the story incredible. But alas, it is true.
The two brothers, Fortunate Osuji, 25, his younger brother, Praise, 17, all from Owerri North local government area of Imo State, conspired with other gang members said to belong to the Black Axe fraternity, to kidnap their young brother, Confidence, 14, and kept him in captivity for about two weeks. They only released him after their distraught grandfather, Chief Chukwuma Osuji, said to be the traditional Prime Minister of his village, Emekuku, in the same local government area, against police instruction, negotiated and paid N1m out of the initial N7 million demanded as ransom.
Why the two brothers, one, a graduate, waiting for his call-up letter to the National Youth Service Corps, the other a secondary school leaver waiting for admission into the university should come up with such wicked plan which they said they started hatching in 2017 beats imagination except that they claim to want to use their own share of the money to set up a barber’s salon.
How the absurd kidnap drama unfolded
Speaking on the incident which has already become the talk of the town, the Imo State Commissioner of Police, Mr. Isaac Akinmoyede, told Saturday Sun that it was on June 10, 2020 at 6:30pm that the victim’s grandfather, Chukwuma Osuji reported the development to the Anti-Kidnapping Squad that one of his sons, Confidence Osuji, was kidnapped at Ezedibia Emekuku in Owerri North local government area of Imo State.
He said on receiving the report, the Squad’s Commander, Linus Nwaiwu (Superintendent of Police) and his operatives, through technical intelligence device, was able to track them to their location, Amaiyii-Amate Ikeduru L.G.A, Imo State, on June 11, 2020.
With the exception of their gang leader, Nelson Dike, from Obowo L.G.A but resident at St. Christiana Hospital Road, Egbu, Owerri North L.G.A and still at large, all the other gang members were arrested, besides Fortunate and his younger brother, Praise.
Picking up gang members
The members include: Bernard Ugo, native of Mbano L.G.A, Imo State but who is resident somewhere in Orji, Owerri North L.G.A. He is said to be the one who threatened the grandfather to pay N7 million or else they would use Confidence for rituals.
“It was this threat that prompted the man to pay N1million and he dropped the money at the kidnappers’ camp, Upe in Ngor-Okpala local government area of Imo State,” Akinmoyede said. “It was after the payment the victim was released the same day.”
Seven days later, on June 18, 2020, the Anti-Kidnapping Squad, having thoroughly grilled Ugo whom they first picked and finding Fortunate and his brother Praise, to be accomplices in the crime, based on the strength of his confession, swooped on the two and their recently released younger brother, Confidence, arrested and took them into custody.
Two days after, on June 20, based on further revelations from them, they picked up Okechukwu Nwachukwu, 22, a key planner and the gang member whose house was used as a place to share the ransom. The arrest of Nwachukwu led to the arrest of other gang members, namely, Apollo Jeffery, 22, and Iregbu Akachukwu, 30, Akinmoyede further revealed.
A grandfather’s grand shock
Speaking on the incident, the victim’s grandfather, Chief Chukwuma Osuji, corroborated the CP’s account. “When I didn’t see my grandson, Confidence, who was kidnapped I immediately reported the case to the Anti-Kidnapping Squad,” he told Saturday Sun. “The kidnappers started calling me on my phone and demanding for N7 million. They threatened that if I refused to pay the ransom, they would use the victim for ritual. I quickly went and dropped N1 million without the consent of the police. I dropped the money at their camp at Upe in Ngor-Okpala local government area of Imo State.
“I was surprised that immediately I paid the money, that evening my grandson was released. I was happy. But suddenly the police came and arrested the three children. I didn’t understand until when they got into custody and Fortunate confessed that he masterminded the kidnapping with Praise. He confessed that they conspired to kidnap their younger brother with other five kidnappers. It came to me as a big shock. I didn’t believe it myself.”
The mastermind’s account of incident
But unfortunately, Fortunate who reeled out account of his life to Saturday Sun, confirmed it to be so. “I attended Foundation Nursery and Primary School, from where I proceeded to Domino International Secondary School,” he said. “I studied Business Administration and Management at Abia State University and graduated on October 7, 2019. Right now, I am waiting for my NYSC posting.
“My father, Elvis Osuji died in 2009 at Federal Medical Centre, Owerri, while my mother, Blessing Osuji died the same year in Abia State. We are three children – myself, Praise and Confidence. We have been living with our grandparents from 2009 till date. I was the one who masterminded the kidnapping of my younger brother. We started planning it in 2017 and I had to win the heart of my younger brother, Praise, to agree with me. I later contracted my five gang members of kidnappers to execute it on June 10, 2020. I gave Confidence N200 to wait for us at a particular junction leading to Nelson’s house. I said we were going out for shopping. But it was a lie. Before that time, I had arranged with my friends. The moment he got to that junction they kidnapped him and kept him in their custody.
“While my grandfather was looking for him, I feigned ignorance and played along and helped to look for him too. Initially, the Anti-Kidnapping operatives suspected and arrested me but my grandfather vouched for me that I didn’t know anything. I was released that day. My gang members ordered my grandfather to pay N7 million. But he pleaded and later paid N1 million. Immediately, my younger brother was released. Our leader, Nelson, who is still at large transferred N450, 000, which is my share of the ransom to my bank account.
“It was on June 18, 2020 that the operatives came to the house and arrested three of us and took us into their custody. I was interrogated and I confessed that I was the one who masterminded the kidnapping and that the N450,000 sent to my account as my share is still intact. My grandfather was good to us. But we needed money to set up a barber’s salon where we can make some personal money. I regret what I did and I want my grandfather to forgive us for what we have done.”
His brother’s account
His younger brother, Praise, and partner-in-crime is singing the same song of regret and begging for forgiveness. His account: “I attended Foundation Primary School and went to Emekuku High School. I finished in 2019 and I am waiting for admission into the university. It was my senior brother Fortunate who masterminded the kidnapping of our younger brother, Confidence. He gave him N200 to take a transport and wait for him in one of the gang member’s house, Nelson who he didn’t know because he had not met him before. But as he was on his way, at the junction leading to the house, he was kidnapped. When police detectives arrested Fortunate, I was the one who quickly called Okechukwu on the phone to ask them to relocate to another place because the police detectives may soon catch them.”
A gang member’s story
Giving account of his involvement, Okechukwu Nwachukwu said: “I attended Fair Child Primary School, Domino Secondary School and I went to Aba Polytechnic. I studied Electrical/Electronic Engineering at OND level. I know Fortunate Osuji as a classmate and friend at Domino International Secondary School. He had been planning the kidnap of his brother since 2017 and it was on June 10, 2020 that he executed the plan and we kidnapped him. It was our gang leader, Nelson who asked Bernard to demand for N7 million but the victim’s grandfather could only pay N1million.”
The victim’s angle of the story
The victim, 14-year-old Confidence, stated his experience with confidence albeit mixed with shock. “It was a terrible experience as my elder brother, Fortunate, deceived me that they want to take me out for shopping. He gave me N200 to go to his friend’s house, Nelson, to wait for him. I didn’t know him in person or what he looked like. But at a junction leading to his house I was kidnapped and kept in captivity for one week. They moved me from one primary school to a forest until I was later released. My elder brother, Fortunate, didn’t tell me anything until the police came and arrested us. I attended Foundation Nursery and Primary School. I am a student of Emekuku High School. Right now, I am in SS1.”