Notorious kidnap kingpin, Chikwudubem Onwuamadike, more commonly known as Evans, has been sentenced to death by a Lagos High Court. Evans Chikwudubem Onwuamadike was arrested in June 2017 and arraigned on charges bordering on kidnapping.
Investigations revealed how Evans used two separate gangs to conduct high-profile kidnappings: one to carry out the abduction and another to transfer the victim to a safe house. The gang leader extracted million-dollar ransoms from the families of his victims, whom he would keep in captivity sometimes for several months.
The Lagos State Police disclosed how Evans conspired on February 14th, 2017 at about 7.45 pm at Ilupeju, Lagos, to kidnap one Donatus Dunu and collected €223,000 in ransom for his release.
Evans was arrested by a special police squad at his Lagos mansion at No. 3, Fred Shoboyede Street, Magodo in 2017. He later pleaded guilty to kidnapping – an offence which carries a death sentence in 10 of Nigeria’s 36 states including Lagos.
The kidnap kingpin confessed to being responsible for many high-profile kidnap cases in many states in Nigeria, especially Lagos State.
His arrest came few days after one of his victims, Donatus Dunu, a wealthy owner of a pharmaceutical company at Ilupeju, Lagos, escaped miraculously from the hideout where they kept him for months. He was abducted in front of his office in Ilupeju, on February 14, 2017, after he closed for the day, by gun-totting young men who blocked his car with their SUV and threw him into the booth of the car.
Members of his family later paid about ₦150m to effect his release. But the kidnappers insisted on getting ₦500m. They threatened to kill their victim if the full ransom was not paid.
Luckily, few weeks after the payment of the ransom and their consistent threat to kill their victim, Dunu miraculously escaped from their hideout at Igando, a suburb of Lagos. He, thereafter, alerted security agents who swung into action and started rounding up members of the gang. Evans was reportedly traced to his palatial home in Magodo, Lagos, while he had already packed his bags and baggages, ready to fly to South Africa, the next day.
On the other hand, Hamisu Bala Wadume is the man responsible for the killing of two civilians and three police officers from the IGP Intelligence Response Team (IRT) on August 6 along Ibi-Jalingo Road, a super kidnapper who carved a fiefdom for himself in a corner of the Northeast. Wanted by the police, Wadume had engineered several abductions and made a fortune out of ransom extorted from relatives of the victims.
Detectives had been on his track for months until the police authority decided that fateful day was an opportune moment to bring him to book and a detachment of operatives from the Inspector General of Police’s Intelligence Response Team (IRT) was dispatched––on what turned out to be an ill-fated mission––to arrest him. The team did achieve its objective and was on its way to the Command Headquarters in Jalingo when Wadume pulled one last stunt that culminated in the butchery of August 6 at Ibi village where IRT operatives, led by ASP Felix Aidoloje were gunned down in cold blood by soldiers on Wadume’s payroll.
How was it possible for one man to orchestrate such a heinous crime? This and other pertinent questions cropped up in the aftermath. The outrage generated by the bloody event of August 6 in Ibi village was of such a high voltage that made it impossible to sweep the incident under the carpet. The public raged. The police fumed. A panel was constituted. At the end of two weeks, a can of worms has been uncovered. Wadume was actually being shielded by the Government for reasons best known to them.
First, the grisly affair of August 6. News of Wadume’ arrest was related by his acolyte, Shehu Zuberu, to Army Captain Balarabe Tijani. Zuberu, who called Captain Tijani to inform him about the arrest of “his friend,” also described the vehicle brought by the team who made the arrest. However, by the time the information got to the Captain, the vehicle had already driven past the checkpoint where he was stationed. He subsequently commanded his men to go after the vehicle with specific order: Kill all the occupants. The IRT operatives upon sighting the pick-up van with soldiers coming behind them decided to slow down. Before they knew what was happening, they came under heavy fire from the soldiers. The assault resulted in heavy casualty. Half the team was slain by a hail of bullets; the other half escaped death by the whiskers, but with grave injuries.
After he was rescued, Wadume was first taken by the soldiers to the barrack, then moved to Captain Tijani’s house, where a welder was brought in to destroy the chain on his legs and his handcuffs, after the Captain reportedly asked his Divisional Police Officer (DPO) friend for the keys to the cuffs and got a negative response. After he was set free, Wadume took refuge in the house of one of his friends where he spent the night. He remained indoors throughout the next day until midnight, when another friend organized a speedboat at Ibi waterside and ferried him to Tunga in Nasarawa Statent.
In many ways, Wadume is unrivalled as a criminal. He is a much bigger predator than the notorious billionaire kidnapper, Chukwudumeme Onwuamadike, alias Evans. In terms of organisation, weapons, networking and scope of operation, Evans is a Liliput beside Wadume. But it is obvious that unlike Evans, Wadume has been treated like a Prince.
There is no open trial on Wadume and of recent, the prosecution has been taken over by the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice Alhaji Abubakar Malami. This has raised a lot of suspicions as eyebrows have been raised as to why the AGF did not take over the case of the billionaire kidnapper, Evans arrested in Lagos who is currently being prosecuted by the Police. This increased interest of the Government on Hamisu Bala Wadume’s trial is utterly suspicious because it seems like the Government is being nepotic by packaging a soft landing for the once-beloved patron of their religious sect since Taraba State is about 95 percent an Islamic state and the kidnap kingpin is known to have built multiple massive mosques in the state thus endearing most top Government officials to him.
Chikwudubem Onwuamadike (Evans)’s trial although quite elongated was swift and straightforward, the Nigerian Government should channel the same energy to Hamisu Bala Wadume’s trial and the trial of other high-ranking Islamic criminals who are awaiting the long arms of justice to reach out to them.
AFRICA DAILY NEWS, NEW YORK