Four months after the abduction of a former Minister of Education, 70-year-old Senator Iyabo Anisulowo, the Inspector-General of Police Special Intelligence Response Team, has arrested the alleged mastermind of the abduction, 28-year-old Ikechukwu Daniel, who made some startling confessions.
It will be recalled that Anisulowo, who represented the Ogun West Senatorial District between 2003 and 2007, was abducted in April 2016, with one of her security aides.
The ex-minister was rescued after spending 10 days in captivity.
The police at the time arrested two suspects, through whom the IRT got information which unmasked Daniel as the leader of the gang.
If Daniel’s confession is anything to go by, one of Africa’s richest men, billionaire, Femi Otedola, would have fallen victim of the kidnappers.
According to the suspect, he and his gang planned to kidnap Otedola at a function in Ibadan, Oyo State in November 2015, but called off their attempt due to the presence of security operatives.
“It would have been impossible because the security there was heavy that day. We decided to take our time and prepare well for the operation,” he said.
According to him, someone working with Otedola brought them the job.
“The person told us that he was going to be in Ibadan and when we went there, we realised that there was heavy security presence around him. I told my gang members that we had to prepare well for the operation to be successful.
“I told them we needed to do a sacrifice and fortify ourselves spiritually before attempting to kidnap him.
Then, we decided that we also needed army, DSS and police uniforms because without impersonation, there was no way we could get him.
“The man who brought the job was supposed to monitor his movements regularly. I already planned that if we abducted him successfully, it would have been my last job because I would have demanded N2bn and maybe we would have negotiated for N500m.”
But that would never be before the police captured Daniel, whose gang was said to have become a terror in the South West.
Saturday PUNCH learnt that Daniel’s fate was sealed when IRT operatives arrested one Mohammed Babuga during the week. Babuga was said to have revealed the location of Daniel’s hideout in Festac, Lagos.
By the time he was arrested, he was negotiating the N4m ransom of another victim his gang was holding.
A source at the IRT revealed that Daniel, a native of Imo State, grew up in Kaduna and is adept at ICT. He reportedly confessed to teaching Fulani kidnappers how to evade arrest using his ICT skills.
Daniel said his journey into the world of kidnapping started in 2014 after he was released from the Agodi Prison, Ibadan, Oyo State.
He said, “I was arrested in 2012 for hijacking a petroleum tanker truck on the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway. I speak Hausa fluently. While I was in prison, I realised that inmates were still arranging criminal jobs from the prison.”
Daniel said after he was discharged from the Agodi Prison for want of evidence against him, Babuga who was his cellmate, told him the way to make money was for him to join a kidnapping gang.
He said, “Mohammed Babuga had been discharged from prison ahead of me. When I first started, all I was doing was negotiating ransom anytime we kidnapped anybody.
“When we kidnapped the woman (Senator Anisulowo) I was the one who ensured that the woman was not killed because her family refused to pay ransom for her release.”
“The first person we kidnapped was a man whose name I cannot remember. We kept him in a forest in Ilorin, Kwara State and got N5m as ransom.
“We got N15m in our second job and I got N2m as my share. I used it to buy my first car.”
In details, he narrated what took place during the time, Senator Anisulowo was being held by the gang. Daniel said his members initially did not carry him along in the job.
He said, “They told me that they were expecting to get nothing less than N50m. But after the family of the senator refused to pay the money and police were conducting raids all over the place, they decided to eliminate the woman.
“Police helicopter was hovering all over the place. My gang members then called me and said they wanted to kill the woman.
“I begged them for two days because they respect and listen to me. Luckily for the woman, she was released and they all ran away. The Fulani boys would have hacked her to death.”
Daniel said he had been ahead of security operatives for so long because he familiarised himself with the modus operandi of the Department of State Services and police in tackling kidnapping.
The suspect claimed that to get information, he contracted one of his friends, who is a hacker, to gain access into DSS and police websites.
“Through that, I was able to understand their methods. Before I was arrested, I already knew the police was looking for me. But I thought I would continue to escape them because I understood how they worked,” he said.
On his part, 32-year-old Babuga, a native of Kebbi State, said he used to be an armed robber until he was arrested in 2011 during an operation along Kaduna Road in Kwara State.
“It was my third robbery operation at the time some vigilantes in Ilorin arrested us and handed us over to the police.
“We were charged to court and I was remanded in prison. When I left Prison, I joined a kidnap gang.”