Lagos — The Lagos State Police Command has uncovered a kidnappers den in Ajah area of Lagos, killing a suspected leader of the syndicate during a shoot-out, while three other members were arrested.
Rescued at the end of the gun duel were two staff of Epe Local Government Area, Samsudeen Olatunde, 37 and Daramola Muideen Bisoye, 43.
They were abducted a week ago on Abraham Adesanya Street, along Lekki/Epe expressway when they stopped to answer the call of nature.
The suspects who usually disguised as beggars, disclosed that their targets were men who usually parked exotic cars to ease themselves around Ajah and other high brow areas of Lagos.
The seven-man syndicate said to have been on the wanted list of the Area 'J' Command, Elemoro, for about a year, reportedly met their waterloo following intelligence report from the area command, consequent upon which a joint team of operatives from the Special Anti-Robbery Squad, Ikeja and men of the Area 'J' Command led by the Area Commander, Mr Felix Vwamhi, reportedly stormed the kidnappers' den, an uncompleted building located in an area popularly known as General Paint in Alasia, Ajah.
Sighting the policemen, the kidnappers reportedly opened fire that triggered a gun duel.
Police sources said: "During the hot exchange of fire, two members of the gang, one of them later discovered to be the gang leader, identified simply as Akpos and his second in command, Michael Chinedu Edom, were fatally wounded.
"They were arrested while five others escaped with minor bullet wounds and one of the guns used by Akpos was recovered including 20 live cartridges.
"Efforts to revive Akpos to enable police use him to get the fleeing gang members failed but "Michael survived and was used to track down two other members, Emmanuel Omoseni and Emeka Agbaji, who have made confessional statements.
Our targets --Suspect
One of the suspects, Emeka Agbaji, 31, who hails from Ekuoma village in Ika East Local Government Area of Delta State disclosed: "That fateful day at about 8pm along Epe Expressway, we saw two persons who parked their Toyota Yaris saloon car by the roadside and went to urinate.
"One of our gang members who disguised as a beggar approached the driver when he wanted to board the car and begged him to assist him with some money to eat. Out of sympathy the driver gave him N100 and he prostrated in gratitude.
"But, as the driver wanted to enter his car, the supposed beggar held on to the car door and started dragging the door with him. The occupants were confused and before they knew it, other members including myself came out of hiding with locally made short guns and pushed the driver and the passenger inside the back seat of the car.
"One of us took over the steering wheel and we drove straight to our camp at General Paint area.
"We did not torture the victims. We had not even started calling their families or the Epe local government council where we learnt they were working when, all of a sudden, the police stormed the uncompleted building and rescued them."
Agbaji who said he was lured into kidnapping by the late Akpos confessed that he was once a robber.
"But at a point, I decided not to steal again. I was tempted to join because Akpos advised me to be saving one tenth of any money I got through kidnap for court case, saying kidnap was a bailable offence and that he had formidable hands in the boys he recruited from Delta State. This is my first time of joining them and I was promised N500,000 at the end of the day," he said.
I intended travelling with my share -- Another suspect
For Michael Chinedu Edom, 25, a native of Isiekenesi village in Ideato South Local Government Area of Imo State: "I was also lured by late Akpos, with a promise of more than N2 million when we receive the ransom.
"We were told that each of the victims' families would be made to pay N7 million. At least I knew I would have got over N2 million with which I intended to travel out of Nigeria.
"I joined out of frustration because all the menial jobs I ventured into fetched me nothing.
"First, I started as a conductor and got only N1,000 at the end of each day which was not enough to fend for myself, let alone my wife and baby who live with a family friend.
"I was squatting with friends in an uncompleted building because I could not afford to pay the rent around Ajah.
"My role in this was to provide a hideout for the gang. I was promised N10,000 per day. I was not there when they did the job. I was in a restaurant all through but was forced to run out during the gun duel. In my attempt to escape, one of the arrested persons sighted me and revealed my identity to the police."
We are only kidnappers not robbers -- Third suspect
The third suspect who identified himself as Emmanuel Omoseni, 33, from Zion People village in Ilaje Local Government Area of Ondo State, claimed to be a teacher in a private school in the area. Omoseni said he was tempted to provide the gang a hiding place after being promised N100,000.
"As at then, I had not been paid two months salary. Even the two months salary was not up to the N100,000 promised. My only regret is that I ended up not getting a dime."