The heinous crime of kidnapping is over time assuming an unenviable status of a crime against humanity possibly because of its local and global dimensions, and the untold hardships it brings to its victims, and the society at large. To say that it is now a booming illicit business cum crime is to say the obvious, as perpetrators of this dastardly act, especially in Nigeria, have no regard to status, age, religious leaning or how powerful an individual is. In fact the more socially and economically advanced their victims are, the better the persons are for their ransom. Niger State in North Central geopolitical zone of the country is not left out of this menace. It was more shocking that the families of Jatto from Ekpoma in Edo state and Made from Ogun state can be described as models to many Nigerians, because between them the families have produced men and women who are ready to lay down their lives for others to live. It therefore came as a rude shock to many residents of Minna, the Niger state capital when it was discovered that the respected retired Army Colonel and a serving Army Captain could be associated with kidnappers that were caught pants down recently in Minna, the State’s capital. Abraham Jatto, a graduate of Ambrose Alli University at a relative young age of 30 is now allegedly linked to kidnapping several students of the Federal University of Technology, Minna.
For Idowu Mafe, a blossom friend of Abraham, who is a graduate of the University of Ilorin, and whose father is, a retired Army Colonel, he has brought shame to a man who had meritorious served his fatherland and is currently taking a deserved rest from the rigours of military life. His mind will not doubt be on his son’s case at least for now, until his son, Idowu’ s ordeal with the law enforcement agents is over.
The twosome belongs to the elite kidnap gang that specialises in luring students in tertiary institutions in Niger state to their hideout for ransom. Their operational base is in Minna, and students of Federal University of Technology Minna are their prime targets.
However, luck ran out of the gang as they were crushed by the Niger State Police Command Anti- Kidnapping Unit recently. Sources close to the Command of the State Anti -Kidnapping Unit confirmed that in kidnapping undergraduates and demanding ransom from their parents. It was also gathered that their victims were usually picked up at different locations of the institution, especially from Bosso and Gidan Kwanu campuses
They would lure their unsuspecting victims with offer of free ride and if they were found to be alone they pushed them into the boot of their car, and most often dispossessed them of their valuables such as laptops, handsets, jewelries and money before driving them to the their hide out which was later discovered to be behind the state’s Trade Fair Complex opposite Shango Ares, Minna.
Police confirmed to DAILY ASSET that, before the kidnap ring was smashed, among their victims was one miss Esther Okwe, a 24 year undergraduate , and a 500 level student of the department of Estate Management .
Esther’s family, DAILY ASSET was told, had to cough out half a million naira to secure their daughter’s release from the gang. Similarly Agbo Sylvasnus, another 500 level student also fell victim to the vicious gang who collected an undisclosed sum of money from the Department of Mathematics undergraduate’s parents. Another victim simply identified as Peter of Department of Micro Biology has a lot of stories to share on his experience in the hands of the men of the underworld.
Speaking to DAILY ASSET, one of the suspects, Idowu Mafe, said he was lured into kidnapping when he was offered a job in Dubai, but his parents could not raise the N750,000 needed to cover his traveling expenses and Abraham had to lure him into kidnapping to raise the fund which eventually landed him into this predicament.
He said: “I have dragged my good family name to the mud. Honestly I have a good family upbringing, I can not even factor in what led me to this heinous act, I pray that that my parent will forgive me.”
He added: “If am able to come out of this mess, I will dedicate my life to fighting crime to a standstill in Nigeria. I am extremely ashamed of myself and promise not to ever go back to it again”
Jatto, on his part, also seems to be sober, perhaps as the enormity of what he has gotten himself into gradually dawns on him, as he too appeared to be in a pensive mood. ,He soberly disclosed to DAILY ASSET that he decided to go into kidnapping as a business, despite been successfully self-employed after job hunting for four years, to enable him raise money to travel out of the country.
He added:” You may not believe me, but I regret my action; for I am in my own way successful running my business. I don’t depend on people for assistance; intact I cannot explain how I started kidnapping people”
Niger State Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), Deputy Superintendent of Police, Bala Elkana, confirmed the arrests, which he described as a major breakthrough in the Command’s determination to eliminate kidnapping in the state. He further disclosed that the Command recovered a Honda Accord ash- coloured car with registration number: Abuja Abj 583 AE, belonging to Abraham which he said was being used by the suspects in kidnapping their victims.
Elkana said investigation was already in progress, and as soon as it was completed the suspects will be charged to court.”
On the fleeing suspects that are still at large, the police spokes man said no mater were they run to the long arms of the law will surely catch up with them and urge members of the public to give useful information that Will lead to their arrest.