Kidnapped Nollywood diva, Miss Nkeiruka Sylvanus, was forced to cough out over N8 million to regain her freedom from dare-devil kidnappers who held her hostage for six days in a hideout, the police and State Security Service, SSS have revealed.
Both security agencies held a joint media briefing, yesterday, at the headquarters of the SSS, where six of the suspects, including a dismissed mobile police officer, Ndidi Cletus, 30, who led the kidnap gang, were paraded.
The Nollywood actress who doubles as aide to Imo State governor, Chief Rochas Okorocha, was kidnapped on December 15, 2012 and released on the December 21, 2012 after the payment of the ransom money.
The security agencies said that the suspects who belonged to a notorious gang of kidnappers terrorised Imo State, kidnapping and collecting huge ramsom from families of victims.
Six suspects namely Cletus, Stanley Asonna; Aminu Musa (aka Boski); Mohammed Abubakar; Obinna Okwuolisa ;Samson Onwuka (aka VIP) were paraded while three others, Okoro Bassey, Chijioke Chima and Festus Ologeme are in police custody.
Deputy Director, Public Relations and Media, SSS, Ms. Marilyn Ogar who paraded the suspects with the Deputy Force Public Relations Officer, Frank Mba, explained that Cletus who hailed from Umuokedinma Awara in Ohaji/Egbema Local Government Area of Imo State, confessed that he enlisted in the police as a constable in 2004 under the name, Mathew Ofurum.
According to her, Cletus claimed that he was dismissed from the Force in 2007 because he was absent from duty for more than 21 days without permit due to ill-health.
"The suspect confessed that he is the leader of a notorious nine-man armed gang that kidnapped Sylvanus and the duo of Uche Okoli and Kenneth Okoli and several others including one Okoro Okechukwu (aka Sonnic), an electrical materials dealer on October 15, 2012 who was subsequently released after payment of N1.025 million ransom; The sum of N3.4 million was found on Cletus at the time of his arrest," Ogar stated.
She also explained that Cletus admitted to kidnapping a civil servant, Pauline Okwosha who was held between October 14 and 23, 2012 and released after paying N3 million ransom.
The gang, according to Cletus' confession, also kidnapped a staff of Promasidor, Gloria Agbonghae who was held between December 1 and 4, 2012 and released after payment if N1.5 million.
Ogar said Asonna, 27, doubles as the gang's driver and a guard for kidnap victims at their Avu junction hideout while Musa, a Taraba State indigene who was initiated into the gang by the ringleader, Cletus, confessed to participating in the abduction of Okechukwu and Sylvanus.
The SSS spokesperson said the six suspects would be handed over to the police for further investigation and prosecution.
Mba faulted Cletus' account of his dismissal from the police, and said that the gang leader deserted the Force when he got to know that he was being wanted for sundry criminal activities.