By Molly Kilete, Abuja
The leader of an eight-man deadly kidnap gang terrorizing residents of Taraba State has told of how he used the N30 million they collected as ransom from a member of the Taraba State House of Assembly to begin a POS business.
He said though he had other lucrative businesses in mind to go into where he would make more money, he was afraid to do so, so that his neighbours would not start suspecting him and invite the police to arrest him.
The suspect, Yusuf Abubakar, who has been in the kidnapping business for some years now, said that he has collected over N100 million from relatives of his victims and that he collects the monies in cash.
According to him, he uses his money to buy the good things of life and go back for more operations as soon as he gets broke.
A native of Taraba State, Yusuf, said that they usually hide their money in a bag inside the forest and spend from there.
He said that they cannot take such monies to the bank so as not to have issues with bank officials when they go for withdrawal.
To effectively carry out their criminal acts, Yusuf, recruited seven other members and equipped them with AK-47 riffles and other dangerous weapons.
His gang members include Dahiru Ahmed, 28; Taraba Muktari Umar, 20; Sani Yinusa, 39; Idi suleiman, 40; Adamu Ahmed, Mohammed Garba and Ali Shuabu, from Taraba and Adamawa states.
He said that their group since its inception engages only in kidnapping very high profile personalities, saying that they do so because they do not waste time to pay whatever amount they demanded as ransom to get their freedom.
In this interview, Yusuf, said that one day he can never forget in his life as a kidnapper was the day he and his gang members were attacked by a group of armed robbers while on a trip to Yola, and could not defend themselves.
He said that they could not identify themselves as fellow armed robbers to their colleagues and to make matters worse, they had all their weapons neatly packed in the boot of their operational vehicle.
But somehow, he said that they were able to escape on that day.
The suspects who have been on the wanted list of the police for sometime now, were eventually arrested by men of the Intelligence Response Team and are currently being detained.
They were found with four AK 47 riffles one pump action gun, one locally made pistol and 50 rounds of live ammunition at the time of their arrest. Yusuf, looking very well dressed and funky with his curly hair, spoke to Sunday Sun, about his life as a kidnapper and armed robber.
He said thst he had wanted to drop the bad habit a long time ago, but what he gets from the act keep on taking him back to the bad business. He thanked the police team for arresting him as this would make him end the inglorious trade.
Hear him: ”My name is Yusuf Abubakar. I am from Taraba State. I am 31 years old. I have participated in several kidnappings in Taraba State. Some of my victims were fellow Fulani people, others are Hausa and other tribes. But we specialized in kidnapping big, big people like politicians because they have money and they don’t like to suffer. Anything you tell them to pay before you will release them, they pay sharp, sharp.
“One of the persons that we kidnapped was Bashir Marte who is a member of the Taraba State House of Assembly and we collected N30 million from him as ransom before releasing him to go home.
“I went into kidnapping because it is a very lucrative business and many people are going into it to survive the harsh economic condition in the country.
“As the leader of this gang, whenever we finish an operation the people pay us our money, I will share the money among my members and keep the lion share. I used to settle my members well, that way they will always come out when I call them.
“I keep my own money and that of my deputy in a Ghana-must-go bag and hide it in a very secured place in the bush and go there to collect it whenever I need cash. I cannot take the money to the bank because the people may suspect me that what kind of work am I doing to have that kind of big money, so I keep it in the bush to avoid police trouble.
“But when the money was getting plenty and we were spending it anyhow, I told my second-in-Command that we should start a provision business, but he said our people will begin to suspect us because I wanted to have a very big supermarket, so I dropped the idea because it was a good advice and he said that we should go into POS business and I agreed.
“Again we were afraid to start the POS business because people will be suspecting that where did we get that kind of money, so what we did was to contact a man who has been into the business in Taraba State and invested in it with N3 million.”
On how he has been faring as a kidnapper, he said: “Life has been good because I have been able to provide food for my family and also take good care of myself. The kidnapping business is good because you never run out of money. I will say the only day I regretted my life as a kidnapper was the day some armed robbers attacked us on our way for an operation in Yola and we could not defend ourselves because we had our guns in the booth of our car.”
On his part, the second-in-command of the kidnap group who also happens to be the official driver of the gang also spoke on their operations:
“My name is Ahmad Tahiru, I am 28 years old from Taraba State. I have participated in many kidnapping and I work as the driver of the group. We went twice to Adamawa on a kidnap operation, but succeeded only once and came back empty handed on the second operation. Our rest operations were carried out in Taraba State.
“I want to thank God and the IRT for arresting me because I have learnt my lessons and I am advising other criminals to repent from their bad ways because it’s not good.
“I nearly got killed during one of our operations to Adamawa when we were attacked by another gang of armerd robbers who came out from no where and blocked the road. They flagged us down, commanded us to lie face down on the road and there was nothing we could do than obey them. We had all our arms in the booth of our car and there was no time to bring them out to challenge the robbers and defend ourselves. We usually put our arms in the booth of the car whenever we are going for operation to avoid being caught by the police on check point. After they ordered us to lie down, they took all our phones. But all of a sudden, the robbers sighted two other vehicles perceived to have rich occupants and they abandoned us and went for the vehicles. In the process of robbing their new catch, we got up from where we were lying down, open the booth of our vehicle, brought out our guns and opened fire on the robbers who immediately abandoned the people they were robbing and ran into the bush. That was how we were saved otherwise we would have been killed. God used those vehicles to save our lives because it is always very bad when an armed robber meets another armed robber.”
Asked why they did not introduce themselves to their fellow armed robbers as colleagues, he said: “We didn’t introduce ourselves because they are also going out to look for money and we were also going to look for money so there was no way we could introduce ourselves to them because they would not even listen to us and even believe us that was why we refused to introduce ourselves.”