When Dr SMC Maduagwu was kidnapped in 2018, he had no idea the company’s driver orchestrated his abduction. Neither did he know that it was punishment for his intransigence.
Maduagwu, the chief accountant of Plantgeria Limited, an oil service firm in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, was approached by Uche Ibekwe, the company’s driver who asked for a loan in the form of a salary advance. Unfortunately, the response from the chief accountant had been negative, and the manner of the conveyance, hurt the driver who felt slighted and burned for revenge. The driver felt kidnapping the accountant would be a just punishment which in the end will cost the company and Maduagwu’s family N20 million ransom.
This hideous fact came to light recently after members of the gang behind the abduction were rounded up and they started singing like canaries, and an old crime brought new revelations.
The suspects, Uche Ibekwe, Tony Rafael, Nnaji Romanus and Nwobodo Uche, were arrested by operatives of the Inspector-General of Police, Intelligence Response Team, IRT from their various hideouts in Rivers and Imo states.
More appalling details emerged from their confessions.
They spoke of how their leader, Christian Kenjika, alias School Boy, shortchanged them of the ransom to the tune of N10 million. School Boy’s greed brewed bad blood that spelt doom for him when an aggrieved member of the gang, Nwobodo Uchechukwu, decidedly played the Judas and sold him down the river to a rival cult.
School Boy, declared wanted in 2018 by the Rivers State government was alleged to have masterminded several kidnappings in Rivers State, had N20 million bounty on his head, but according to a police source, the native of Omademe Community in Ikwere Local Government Area of the State, was beheaded by De-Gbam cultists before security operatives could lay their hands on him.
Saturday Sun spoke with individual suspects whose narratives added up to a monstrous tale of criminality, treachery and dishonour among thieves.
How the crime happened
Uche Ibekwe, the 37-year-old driver confessed to the police how he masterminded the abduction of Dr Maduagwu over his refusal to grant him a salary advance. The way the victim shouted at him was what got him angry and he resolved to teach him a lesson by having him kidnapped, he told detectives.
Ibekwe, a native of Omodeme community in Ikwere Local Government Area of Rivers State is married with three children, said: “I am a driver to an oil services company known as Plantgeria, in Rivers State. I was employed in the year 2007 and transferred to Shell to work as a driver in 2017. I was recalled and posted to the head office of our company to work as a driver to an expatriate. In 2018, I applied for a salary advance loan from our company. I met the company’s Chief Accountant to perfect the loan. He shouted at me and sent me out of his office. I left his office angry and was thinking of how to deal with him. Unfortunately, I got a call from a friend of mine known as Stanley, who is also from my community but was into armed robbery and kidnapping. I related what happened between the chief accountant and myself. He suggested that we kidnap the man or any of the expatriates; I preferred the accountant, so I gave him information about him.
“On the day he was kidnapped, Stanley called me and I also spoke with Uche; they asked me to inform them when the man would be leaving his office. I did and the next day I got news from my office that the man has been kidnapped.”
Ibekwe insisted he had no idea of the size of the ransom. “I was later given the sum of N800, 000 after ransom was paid for his release. I didn’t know the exact amount that was paid as ransom, but I bought a Nissan Primera with my own share of the ransom,” he said.
One year after the incident, the long arm of the law caught up with him.
“I was sitting quietly with my wife in my house when the police came and arrested me.”
He claimed to have told the police all he knew about the abduction.
“I also told them that I have never gone out with the gang to carry out any form of kidnapping or armed robbery,” he stated.
The Judas in the gang
Nwobodo Uchechukwu, 38, was the one who betrayed his gang, whom he accused of greedy.
“I am a full-time farmer but I went into kidnapping when my wife fell sick and was down with stroke. Her doctor demanded N200,000 and I approached School Boy, my gang leader. He gave me the sum of N100,000 to give the doctor. He was the one that told me about the accountant and asked me to monitor the man’s movement, which I did for one month. On the day of the kidnap the man, I followed the man when he left his office on a motorbike; when he got to Oil Mill junction, School Boy and the other gang members dressed in police and military uniform, accosted the man with their Toyota Hilux and took him away. He was taken to my farm where he was kept till the ransom was paid. I wasn’t on the farm with them. But after the kidnap, School Boy gave me the balance of N100,000 to give to my wife’s doctor.
“Two weeks later School Boy called to inform me that N10 million has been paid as ransom for the accountant’s release and that the man has been freed. At that time, I didn’t doubt him. But oddly, he took us, every other person that took part in the operation, to the home of a native doctor known as Romanus Nnaji. There he shared the money. He gave me the sum of N1.5 million to give to Ibekwe and Stanley, the informants, that brought the job; he gave me N500, 000 as my own share.”
Trouble came thereafter
“Few months after the operation, I got a call that my brother had been arrested by the police over the kidnap of the accountant. It was then I heard the actual amount of ransom paid for the operation––N20million! I felt bad that School-Boy cheated every one of us by declaring N10 million as the only ransom while he kept the other N10million to himself. I said nothing at that time because the police were looking for me.”
“I went to a church in Akwa Ibom for prayers to ask God’s forgiveness. Policemen trailed me down to the church. Luckily, I was in the church toilet when I saw the police van. I fled into the bush, trekked down to Ndoni area of Rivers State. When I got back, I called School Boy and told him that the police were looking for me; I told him I could not continue to run, that I will surrender myself. He threatened to kill me. I then ran to Imo State where I stayed for three weeks. But the police came again looking for me and I had to escape. While on the run, I had called School Boy to demand a part of the N10 million he hid from the gang to enable me to run out of the country, but he refused.
Nwobodo felt betrayed, boiled for revenge. “I felt the best thing I should do was to set him up and have him killed. I contacted members of De-Gbam confraternity who had been looking for him. I gave out his location to them. They attacked and beheaded him.”
Yet, the death of School Boy did not mitigate his problem. The police were still on his scent.
“The nurse at the hospital where my wife had gone to deliver her baby called me on the phone and told me that policemen had trailed my wife to her hospital and I ran away again.”
Eventually, when he could not see any way out, he approached a lawyer in Owerri, Imo State, where he was hiding with his pregnant wife.
“I discussed with him what has happened and asked for his advice on what I should do since the police were hunting for me everywhere.”
However,nemesis caught up with him in June as he was arrested by policemen in Orlu, Imo State.
The native doctor
Nnaji Romanus did not participate in the plotting and abduction of Maduagwu; he, however, became an accessory to the crime for his role as the native doctor who was contracted by School Boy to administer oath of silence on the gang members to prevent anyone of them blowing the whistle.
His role earned him a N200, 000 share.
Here is his raw confession: “I am a native doctor from Etche Local Government Area of Rivers State and I learnt it from my late grandfather. Sometime last year, some group of boys came into my compound, a boy known as School Boy came in and he wanted all of the boys to take an oath that none of them will betray the other. I asked him to bring N100, 000. He gave me the money. He also brought a dog, water, pepper and vegetable. I killed the dog and pour the blood on my shrine, invoking a curse that anybody that betrays the other person shall die. I poured the pepper and the vegetable on the shrine and invoked the curse again. I drank the water and gave every one of them to drink. School Boy later paid N100, 000 for my service. By 10 pm of that day, they brought a big bag of money into my shrine. They all shared the money, but I don’t know the amount of money they shared among themselves. I was given just N50, 000, in N500 denomination. I asked them how they got the money, but School Boy said he would come back to tell me how they got it. The next thing I heard was that School Boy has been killed.”