From Molly Kilete, Abuja
It was the end of the road for Okechukwu Edison, a kidnap kingpin who has been in the business of kidnaping for ransom since 2009.
The suspect, who has been in and out of prison have been terrorizing residents of Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital, for sometime now.
Edison, a native of Emuoha, in Rivers State, was among the escapees when gunmen attacked the Imo State prison, in Owerri.
Upon his escape from prison, Edison, went back to his old trade, kidnapping.
Shortly after his escape from the Imo State prison, he connected with his gang members, kidnapped several persons and collected huge sums of money from their relatives as ransom before releasing them.
Edison and his gang members met their waterloo, after they kidnapped a young lady who deals in jewelries in front of her shop located behind Shell Petroleum at Rumuodara, in Obioakpo Local Government Area of Rivers State.
The kidnappers, armed with AK47 riffles, came under the guise of buying gold from her, and forced her into their Lexus car and drove away to an unknown destination.
After successfully kidnapping her, they took her into an uncompleted building in one of the forests in the state and kept her for four days.
She was released from their custody, after her relatives paid a whopping N1.5 million as ransom.
Upon her release from custody, the victim reported the matter to the police authorities who deployed operatives of the Intelligence Response Team (IRT) in the state to go after them.
The IRT operatives swung into action and arrested the suspects few days later through credible intelligence.
Edison was arrested alongside his gang members, namely Chima Nwankwo, 31, from Osisioma, in Ngwa Local Government Area of Abia State; Stanley Chukwunyere, 35, from Isiala Mbano Local Government Area of Imo State, Justice Nna, 18, from Ogoni Local Government Area of Rivers State, while two other members are on the run.
During interrogation, the suspect confessed that it was one Okechukwu Nwankwo, who linked him with one Sunny to do the kidnapping job for him. Sunny and Nwankwo are still at large.
The suspect in this interview told of how he has been a kidnapper for over two decades.
He said that he has been to prison for kidnapping twice and escaped from Owerri prison after gunmen attacked the facility and forced them to run for their lives.
Hear him: “My name is Okechukwu Edison, I am from Rivers State. I am into cement business and industrial cleaning since 2005. I am also a kidnapper.
“I got into prison through a friend. I was drinking with friends when police swooped in on us in 2009, on a case of kidnapping.
“I went to prison in 2009, I escaped in 2021.
I escaped from prison because IPOB people said if we don’t run they will kill us. We were inside the prison sleeping in the night. We heard gunshot and we didn’t know the people so when they came in they were pushing everybody outside. The ones that refused to come out, they shot them. So, due to the fear, I had to come out and follow people that were going out.
“When I escaped, I went to my house and I never went back to the prison. After my escape, I went to a drinking joint, I was arrested for kidnapping after one Sunny whom I met at a drinking joint told me about kidnapping and he told me he has one gun, then we exchanged numbers and from then we started communicating.
“We got talking and one day we met again at a drinking joint and he showed me the gun in the car that he came with and asked me to come in, I did. I have never engaged in robbery before. When I got into the car, we started driving round Port Harcourt, looking for a target and that was how we saw that woman sitting in front of her shop along the road. So, we kidnapped the woman and we took her to our base and kept her there.
“These are my gang members. While she was in our custody, we kept two people with her to make sure she doesn’t escape while the rest of us will go out. We also have a standby driver who we normally call whenever we have an emergency for him to drop our victim.
“We have good coordination, Sunny does the calling and negotiation. She gave us N1.5 million before we released her. We did not rape her, we fed her well and we gave her only what she requested for throughout the four days she spent with us.
“Sunny has escaped. I was arrested when I called Stanley that I wanted to see him, so when I went to see him, I didn’t know he was with the police, that was how I was arrested.
“Out of the N1.5 million, I was given N350,000, this one got N300,000, another person got N20,000, another got N5,000, N25,000, respectively”.