A kidnap and robbery ring operating on the Enugu-Port Harcourt Expressway and Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, has been busted with four members of the gang arrested.
The suspects are Babangida Garba, Sani Mohammed, Ibrahim Dogo and Ibrahim Haruna.
The Punch learnt that the suspects met their Waterloo sometime in November as one of them wanted to pick up N1m ransom for the release of one Alhaji Ulere, who they had kidnapped in Abuja.
Ulere sells cows in the Luge area of the Federal Capital Territory.
It was gathered that Mohammed, who masterminded the kidnap, had worked for the businessman as a herder until 2016 when he left after he was accused of stealing a cow.
The Punch learnt that one of the suspects had pretended to be a customer and called Ulere on the telephone, asking the businessman to meet him along the road to his shop in Luge.
As he wanted to attend to the impostor at the agreed location, other gang members reportedly ambushed him and took him to their camp in the City Gate area.
They subsequently contacted his family and demanded that they pay N1m ransom within 48 hours or lose Ulere.
A family member was said to have reported the incident to the Inspector General of Police Intelligence Response Team led by DCP Abba Kyari and was asked to play along with the gang.
A police source told our reporter that one of the abductors, Dogo, came out of the camp to collect the ransom from Ulere’s relative unknown to him that detectives were monitoring his movement.
The source said, “The kidnappers believed that the ransom they demanded was ready and one of them, Dogo, went to receive the ransom around City Gate area of Abuja. He was arrested. He led the operatives to the camp where the victim was held hostage. Dogo’s gang members got wind of the police invasion of the camp and fled.
“They were traced to their base in Enugu State, apprehended and their guns were recovered. They confessed to have carried out several armed robberies and a series of kidnappings at various locations on the Enugu-Port Harcourt Expressway. One AK-47 rifle and three locally made guns were recovered from them.
“Mohammed confessed that he led his gang to kidnap his former boss because the man accused him of stealing one of his cows. They threatened to kill the businessman if his relatives did not pay the N1m ransom within 48 hours.”
Mohammed, who spoke in Hausa to The Punch through an interpreter, confessed to have participated in several robberies and a series of kidnappings with the gang.
While recalling the chain of events leading to his criminal escapades and how he became a member of the gang, the native of Zamfara State explained that he joined the ring two years ago.
He said, “I was rearing cattle, which was my father’s business. I have no formal education. I came to Abuja in 2007 and started working for Alhaji Ulere. Our relationship went sour in 2016 when he accused me of stealing a cow. I left him and travelled to Enugu State to meet my friend, Babangida, who was also rearing cattle.
“On getting there, I discovered that he already had a gang that was into armed robbery and kidnapping. I joined him and we started robbing motorists travelling on the Enugu Port-Harcourt Expressway. We normally blocked the expressway with heavy wood at night.
“We would force the vehicles to stop and rob the occupants of their cash and other valuables. We kidnapped victims that appeared rich and took them into the bush. We released them after collecting ransoms from their relatives.
“In November, I told Babangida that my former boss wrongly accused me of stealing and I suggested that we should kidnap him. Babangida agreed and he called other gang members to inform them. We went to Abuja and contacted Alhaji on the phone. As he came out, we kidnapped him and kept him in a bush in Abuja. We demanded a ransom of N1m from his family. We didn’t know that they would inform the police.
“We were waiting for Dogo to bring the money when we got information that the police were coming after us. We fled to Enugu where we were later arrested.”
Mohammed’s accomplice, Haruna, said he got the highest share of the crime proceeds because the AK-47 used by the gang belonged to him.
He regretted to have participated in Ulere’s kidnap, adding that Babangida invited him for the operation.