Obinna Odogwu, Awka
The mother of a 14-year-old schoolgirl who was allegedly abducted by a three-man kidnap syndicate recently, Mrs Ukamaka Onyechi, was terribly alarmed when she got a call from her daughter’s guardian in school decrying her absence several days after school had resumed.
At first, the rattled mother found the message strange as her daughter, who is in boarding school, according to her, had left home for school days before the call came in; exactly on January 12, this year. That could be her return to school after the last Christmas break.
But the stark reality, according to her, stared her in the face when she got a text message from a phone number, demanding a ransom of N10 million. The sender made it clear to her that the ransom must be paid to them if she would see her daughter again.
The girl, who was a student of a secondary school in Onitsha, was taken away to an unknown destination from Onitsha to Ogidi in Idemili North Local Government Area of Anambra State while she was returning to her school.
And for 27 days after she was picked up, her abductors turned her to a sex slave while waiting for their ransom of N10 million. Luck, however, ran out on them when the men of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) of the Anambra State Police Command (SARS) trailed them to their hide out in Ogidi.
Narrating what happened at the police headquarters in Awka, the state capital, the victim said that she was making arrangements to return to school when her abductors struck.
Her words: “On 13th of January, 2020, I was on my way back to my school. When I wanted to enter a Keke, a man stopped me. He told me to come and I went to answer his call thinking maybe he was a father to one of the students returning to school.
“He said that my face looks familiar and asked where we have met before. I told him that I am from Ogidi. He too said he was from Ogidi. He asked me my name, which I told him. He asked for my surname, which I told him too.
“From there, that’s how I got to his house. He locked me up, refusing me to go. When he locked me up in his house, he had sex with me. He also beat me up. I spent up to one month there. I was rescued by the policemen.”
Giving further insight into the incident, the mother of the victim, Ukamaka, said that she got a call from the school indicating that her daughter was not in school several days after she had left for school.
“I sent my daughter to school on January 12. She lives in the school. It was on 13th that her guardian called me and told me that she was not in school. So, since then, I kept looking for her.
“It was on February 8 that she was brought to me by the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS).
“Before then, one week after I was told that she was not in school, I got a text message in my phone and in the message, the sender was telling me to bring the sum of N10 million if I want to see my daughter again.
“Secondly, they asked me if I wanted to hear her last voice if I won’t pay the money. Later, they reduced the ransom to N60,000 and asked me to go and pay immediately; that I should not involve the police”, she narrated.
The woman who was thankful to the police in Anambra said that she never knew that the police still work as it did in her daughter’s case. “I am very grateful to the police. I don’t know that they still work like this.”
Confirming the incident, the Police Public Relations Officer in the state, Haruna Mohammed, a Superintendent of Police, in a statement said that SARS operatives trailed the suspects to their hideout in Ogidi community.
He narrated that the suspects, two men and a lady, who warned their victim’s mother not to involve the police, provided her with a bank account number where she was to deposit the ransom.
“On the 8/2/2020 at about 5:30p.m, the command Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) trailed and arrested at their hideout in Ogidi the following syndicate: Onyemechi Aniobi ‘m’ aged 23 years, Elochukwu Okudo ‘m’ aged 25 years and Pauline Elechi ‘f’ aged 24 years.
“Suspects had on the 12/1/2020 allegedly kidnapped a 14-year-old girl in Onitsha and took her to an undisclosed location. Consequently, on the 30/1/2020 the syndicate contacted the victim’s mother through SMS and demanded for ransom of N10 million which was later reduced downward after much pleading by the mother.
“Suspects equally sent a First Bank account number 3120904371 bearing one John Blessing to the victim’s parent to deposit the ransom.
“Meanwhile, the victim who was held hostage for 27 days and allegedly raped severally by the suspects was rescued by the police and taken to the hospital for medical examination. The case is under investigation after which suspects would be charged to court for prosecution”, the police said.