Throughout last week, the media feasted on the revelations about the inglorious saga of our billionaire kidnapper, Chukwudumeme Onwuamadike. Suddenly, the reign ended for the 36-year-old acclaimed most notorious kidnap kingpin in the nation’s history. He was arrested after seven years of kidnapping high profile personalities and collecting millions in dollars and naira. Never in the history of the nation has anyone been made to part with $1 million to buy freedom. Evans, as he is otherwise known, collected this amount from several of his victims and would not set any victim free unless his price has been paid in full. Such audacity is uncommon. Such wickedness is unrivaled.
But now the cookies have crumbled. The mighty Evans has lost his might. Six members of his gang, including a couple are also in custody. Evans, the smart crook has turned a jelly, weeping and singing like a canary after police detectives fished him out of one of his two mansions in highbrow Magodo Estate in Lagos.
It’s thought-provoking how criminals look entangled in police net. Evans appeared subdued and lost. He could hardly remember even names of his gang members. The sudden change in his status must have been like a dream. Wake up to reality, guy. The game is up!
A breakthrough for the police and victory for law enforcement. Kudos to the hardworking men of the Nigeria Police. The likes of ACP Abba Kyari, whose team arrested Evans, are the ones still giving Nigerians hope that all is not lost with the police.
Evans wasn’t the first puzzle unraveled by the Kyari team of detectives.
In 2014 they cracked another hard nut with the arrest of Obinna Okorie, dubbed the most notorious recruiter of truck hijackers and receiver of stolen goods in Nigeria during his time.
For several years Obinna and his many gangs terrorized major highways in Lagos and other parts of the country. Some members of his gang disguised as police officers on patrol. They would stop any goods-laden truck on the excuse that they had warrant to search the vehicle. They would dispossess the driver and conductor of the vehicle after injecting them with a sedative drug at gunpoint and drive off with the goods.
Another gang might fake an accident with the targeted truck and aggressively claim that the truck driver was at fault. In the process, the vehicle would be seized and driven away, while they dealt with the driver.
The goods were usually transferred into the gang’s truck and moved to Obinna’s warehouses where they would be disposed off. Whenever a gang was busted, he formed another. Many members of this gang were either killed or arrested, but Obinna remained elusive for more than 10 years.
The gang members took his instructions and obeyed without questioning. He cut a myth of invincibility and those who worked for him believed he was too smart to be caught. He himself said after his arrest that he denied himself of certain luxuries like marrying or associating with women lest he be betrayed. While he reigned, more than 80 percent of stolen goods in the country ended up in his warehouses. He also worked with more than 50 gangs including military personnel. Obinna’s era ended all the same. Police detectives smoked him out of his sanctuary in Onitsha, Anambra State.
Obinna admitted in the end that he was a ‘bad man’ but had learnt his lesson. He said if given a second chance, he would devote his life to God.
The same way Evans had been pleading for his life to be spared. Now he is willing to give his life to Christ.
Another of their comrade, Abiodun Egunjobi, aka Godogodo, similarly proclaimed to have been born again after being caught by the police. Godogodo who had no mercy for policemen during his many deadly exploits pleaded for his life to be spared so that he would assist the police to curb crime. Why do they always seek for a second chance? Why would they live a life of atrocious cruelty only to beg forgiveness after being caught?
These guys simply believe they would always get away with their acts. If Evans had ever thought of being caught, disgraced, put to shame and with death now stalking him, would he have been buying homes everywhere and building mansions fit only for a king?
People who are criminally-minded like them must realize that the lifespan of an armed robber or kidnapper is short, very short. They can be smart, they can hide, but they can’t be elusive forever. The spirit of the innocent whose lives they have snuffed out in the bid to acquire illicit wealth would never let them be.
May God bless the work of my hands. This is a prayer of one who earns his living through legitimate means. An armed robber or kidnapper cannot plead God to bless his earning. How would God sanctify blood money? How would the Almighty bless the wealth gained through the pains and miseries of other beings.
What appears like success for Evans has turned a great sorrow from the moment he was moved in chains from his palatial home penultimate Saturday. It’s certain he would never return to sleep on his bed again. It has dawned on Evans now that what belongs to a man truly isn’t opulence achieved from the suffering and agony of others.
Not only are people like Evans unfair to their victims, they also have no care in this world for their loved ones. They never think of the effects of their criminal acts on their own children, particularly when they eventually get caught. Asked by journalists if he had any message for his children, Evans replied hard-heartedly, that he had none.
He said God would take care of them. It will take the grace of God really for the children to live through the trauma of knowing their father’s criminal life. I have little sympathy for Evans’ parents. From media reports, their failure to put their home in order resulted in their child becoming a monster to the society. All of us parents must pray for our children to be sources of joy to us and the world. We must work harder on this too.
There are more Evans still out there. As I write this piece, some school children kidnapped from their school in Lagos are still in the custody of some men whose love for money and life has blinded them to consequences of the path of ignominy and doom they are treading.
What would make a man to be so wicked and unfeeling as to kidnap a fellow being and demand an outrageous amount as ransom. In the case of fallen Evans, he took $1 million.
It can’t be lack of jobs as some argue. There are jobs, dignifying toil in the farm. But Nigerian many youths want to get rich without working. Is poverty or greed to blame? Government must go beyond arrest of culprits to investigate the root causes of this malaise and nip them in the bud. From the South to the East, North and West, kidnapping has assumed a thriving federal character.
Call Nigeria a nation of kidnappers now and would you not be justified? The other day, a guy was arrested for organizing the kidnap of his own father and his gang successfully took ransom in millions before setting the old man free. It’s that bad.
Who will pull the Nigerian youth from this dangerous slide?