Police authorities call him by a curious name: one-man squad. David, Okiri, 25, is really is. In an era of rampant cases of kidnapping or abduction involving a team or gang, he chose to go solo. In other words, he alone did what a group of three or four people pursuing similar or common interest would usually do.
This is what Okiri, a cousin to one Nchor Pius, 40, from Obudu Local Government Area of Cross River State did when he, on January 3, 2021, at his uncle’s residence in Umuoba Irete, Owerri West L.G.A, Imo State, after monitoring his uncle’s movement, abducted three of his children and demanded for N5m ransom to stop killing them, according to sources close to the anti-kidnapping squad of the Imo State Police Command.
The children, Goodluck, 9, Graceful, 7 and Rejoice, 11 all pupils of Kiddies Primary School, Irete, Owerri, knew him very well as he onced lived with them before moving out of the house to be on his own. It was that knowledge, familiarity and their innocence he took advantage of, to lure them away from their home and to abduct them later before he started demanding for ransom.
At the end of serious negotiation with him for his children’s life, his uncle, Pius, parted with N200,000 before he could allow him and police detectives access to his children held up in an uncompleted building at Orogwe Secondary School in Owerri West Local Government Area of Imo State.
Police angle of the sting operation
But the Imo State Commissioner of Police, Mr. Nasiru Mohammed told Saturday Sun that after kidnapping the children, Okiri later took them to his house at Kwuzi in Ndoni Local Government Area of Rivers State. It was from there that he called to inform his uncle, of the development and to demand for N5 million or else he would kill the children. Following the mobile phone exchange, his uncle reported the case to the police at Ogbaku Police Station. Afterward, the case was immediately transferred to the anti-kidnapping squad, to handle.
On January 4, 2021, the team swung into action by staging a sting operation. Unknown to Okiri, the “one-man squad,” they set up a trap for him by asking the victims’ father to drop N200, 000 cash for him at a pre-arranged point while they kept watch. Soon, he came out of his hiding to pick the money. And, that was how detectives nabbed him. Upon interrogation, he led the police to an uncompleted building where he kept the children. They were rescued at Orogwe Secondary School around 9:15pm.
Father of the victims’ story
The father of the victims told Saturday Sun how Okiri was able to carry out the abduction. “The suspect is my cousin,” he said. “He stayed in my house for one month, some n years ago. My first son, Rejoice, knew him very well. He started by lying to him that he was sent by me to pick them from the house and to take them to the shop. My son, Rejoice, asked him to call me. But later he confused them by telling them that he was taking them to his house in Rivers State as their uncle. And, that was how they followed him.
“I came from shop at about 12 noon on January 3, 2021, the same day he kidnapped my children. I didn’t see them at home. I thought they went to church. I told my wife to check them in the church. She went but didn’t see them there. I asked my neighbours but one of them told me that he saw a young man taking them away from the house. I went to Ogbaku Police Station to report the case. Later, the case was transferred to the anti-kidnapping squad.
“On the same day, David called me at about 9 pm and demanded N5 million ransom. I told him that I didn’t have that kind of money. He threatened that if I didn’t pay he would kill my children. I pleaded and negotiated with him. At the end of the negotiation, he agreed to collect N200, 000. I promised to comply. Later he used an unknown number to call me and told me where to drop the money at Orogwe Secondary School Owerri.
“On January 4, 2021, I took the N200, 000 and dropped at the agreed place. It was when he came to pick the money that detectives arrested him around 9.15pm. I was shocked when he was arrested. He took us to an uncompleted building at the secondary school and showed us where my children were kept and that was how they were rescued. I will never trust anybody again in my life. I trained him. He used to sell ice cream for me. I operate an ice cream shop. As far as I am concerned, he is the black sheep of the family.”
Suspect reveals why he did it
When asked to introduce himself before narrating what happened, the suspect told Saturday Sun that he attended Community Primary School and Destiny International Secondary School in Obudu Local Government Area of Cross River State after which he sold ice cream to earn a living. “On January 3, 2021, I monitored my uncle’s movement. When I realised he had gone out I went to his house and deceived his children. I lied to them that their father wanted me to bring them to his shop. His first son, Rejoice, asked that I call his Daddy so that he can speak with him. I told them that their father did not say so but that I actually wanted to take them to my house and they were happy.
“I then took them to my house at Kwuzi and prepared Indomie for them to eat. I called my Uncle around 9 pm and demanded for N5 million. I threatened to kill his children if he refused to pay the ransom. On January 4, I took them back to Owerri and kept them in an uncompleted building at Orogwe Secondary School. My uncle accepted to pay N200, 000. I told him to drop the cash at the secondary school, which he did. It was when I went to pick the money that the police arrested me. I took them to the hideout, an uncompleted building to show them where the children were kept. That was how they rescued them.”
Asked why he kidnapped them, Okiri said he wanted to get some money with which to travel overseas to look for greener pastures. “I needed money to travel. If I told my uncle that I wanted to travel abroad, I know that he would never have given me the money,” he said. “So I felt that the next option was to kidnap his children and collect some ransom from him. I wanted to use the money to travel abroad. When and if I come back I would have gone to him to beg for forgiveness. But I right now I am in a big mess because of my action. I want my uncle to forgive me; it is the devil that used me.”
Our story, by a victim
One of the victims, Rejoice, said: “I attend Kiddies Primary School. I am in Primary 6. I know David as my uncle. He came to the house and told us that my daddy is waiting for us in the shop. I told him to phone my daddy so that I can speak to him. Later he said he would take us to his house and we followed him to Rivers State. He didn’t give us any food. We cried throughout the night because of hunger. The following day he took us inside the bus and told us that he was taking us back to Owerri but, instead of doing that, he went and kept us in an uncompleted building. That was where we were until I saw my daddy and police come to the building to rescue us.” CP Mohammed said the suspect would be charged to court after police complete their investigation.