The saying that “there is honour among thieves,” in most cases is often an exception and not the rule. For even among a dishonourable lot, still there is always a Judas who would not hesitate to cheat his colleagues at the slightest opportunity. That was exactly what happened in Rivers State recently when members of a kidnap gang, angry at their ring leader for double-crossing them, took a drastic decision that got them all into a fix, and as a result, they are currently guests of the police, preparing to account for their crime.
Their journey to perdition started on February 22, 2019, on the eve of the Presidential election, when the six-man gang kidnapped Philemon Omega, 32 and Sunny Edego, 46 and held them hostage for four days in an uncompleted building in the middle of a bush.
Wives of the hostages were contacted and the women promptly paid N200, 000 and N150, 000 respectively. This crime committed in Omagira village, Khana Local Government of Rivers State, could, perhaps have ended in tragedy but for a small twist which in the end proved to be the gang’s undoing.
On February 25, three days after the abduction, two members of the gang, who hitherto had been standing guard over the hostages, in annoyance released the victims on the ground that their leader, Obori, refused to give them their share of the ransom collected from the victims’ wives. The hostages, upon regaining their freedom, quickly reported the case to the police.
In the meantime, Yusuf Adenuga, a supervisor at the farm that employed the abducted men, had reported to the police on February 24 that two of their employees had been kidnapped and their abductors had contacted their respective wives to demand ransom.
Detectives tracked the ransom paid to a bank account supplied by the kidnappers. They got a name, a face, an address and mobile phone number which eventually culminated in the arrest of Zabari Karo, owner of the bank account. He in turn led detectives to two other members of the gang, 20-year-old Mark Okunbehie and Success Egbune. The three suspects are presently in police custody.
According to one of the victims, Sunny Edego: “They were six in number who ambushed us on February 22, 2019, on the eve of the Presidential election. They were armed with cutlass and they ordered us to prostrate on the ground. They first of all asked us about the whereabouts of our boss. Then they beat us with cutlass into coma. We at first thought they were policemen until they blindfolded us, took us inside their vehicle and drove into the bush where we were dumped in an uncompleted building. They also started demanding ransom. They called my wife and she immediately paid N150, 000 into their bank account. Yet they didn’t release us. Our legs and hands were tied with clothes and they fed us rice and beans as well as garri and groundnut. But on the fourth day, a member of the gang who had been guarding us released us.”
The second victim, Philemon Omega described his ordeal as a terrible experience. “They kidnapped us and asked us where our money is. They called my wife and demanded a ransom. Even after my wife paid N200, 000 into their account, they refused to release us.”
During a brief interview with Saturday Sun, Zabari Karo, one of the suspects, readily admitted that he belonged to a cult popularly known as Iceland Confraternity.
He said: “Our gang leader Obori came and lured us with the story that he had collected some money from PDP and APC. He showed us N30, 000 which he claimed they gave him. They took us to the bush in Omagira village where we found they already had two kidnapped victims. I was delegated to guard the two hostages. It was in my presence Obori called their wives and demanded ransom from them. He gave them my bank account and the two women paid N350,000 into the account. But surprisingly, I was given N10, 000 only, and yet I was the one who fed the two hostages garri and groundnut. It was out of my pocket I bought them bread and cocacola. I was very angry and therefore decided to release the kidnapped victims and allow them to go.”
The second suspect, Mark Okunbehie, shared the same duty of guarding the hostages. He also claimed he was not given a share of the booty, hence his anger, and subsequent agreement with the planned release of the hostages. “Obori collected N350, 000, but l was not given a kobo,” he said.
However, he was the one who incurred the wrath of their leader. “When he came back and found that the two victims had escaped, he was very angry, ” he narrated. “Obori tied my two legs and hands with chain and used cutlass to beat me into coma. It was when he left, one of our members rescued me.”
He was arrested by the police who had successfully tracked the bank account used for the operation. Commissioner of Police Usman Belel avowed the three suspects will be charged to court while detectives continue to hunt the gang leader and others still at large.