When news broke that suspected notorious kidnap kingpin, Chukwudubem Onwuamadike (AKA Evans) had been arrested in Lagos by the police on June 10, many people celebrated the security agencies that made it happen. But far less known was the celebration it produced in the compound of the Iloenyosi family of Abagana, Anambra State. For this family, the news of Evans arrest was a personal victory. It all began one early morning on November 25, 2013 when the patriarch of the family, Chief James Iloenyosi, was kidnapped on his way back from mass. His son, Chikelue Iloenyosi, former Super Eagles player who played professional football in France and Turkey, has not been able to get over what happened to his father. He narrated the event that quickly became a game of hide and seek between criminals and the law enforcement agents. He told Saturday PUNCH in an emotion-laden tone that his father, who was 86 at the time, was on his way back from their local Catholic church when three SUVs double-crossed him and whisked him away. He would never see his father alive again.
“When they took him away, they di until after five days. They phoned She was sobbing when she called kidnappers had made contact. “When we the children gathered, m the kidnappers again and they sim they would call back. They did not after another five days just to build The N50m ransom negotiation According to Chikelue, with no idea what could be going on with his father, the kidnappers on the morning of the fifth day called to demand a ransom of N50m.
The routine of begging and pleading for the reduction of the ransom started at this point and after many days, they eventually reduced the ransom to N15m. Chikelue said, “When we paid the was already dead and we did not k “What made me upset was that de seriously we worked to get him ba not come out of it alive.” But upon payment of the ransom, the kidnappers said they were not releasing their victim until the family brought more money. But they never heard from the kidnappers again. Breakthrough arrests four months later However, after four months of investigation into the kidnap, said to have involved hundreds of policemen in Anambra State combing the forest at the time, security agencies got a break when a member of the gang that kidnapped Chikelue’s father, a suspect known as Nonso, was arrested along with three other members of his gang.
Chikelue said at the time, Evans was already a popular criminal well known to the State Anti-Robbery Squad of the Anambra State Police Command. He was said to be a wanted robber known for hitting bullion vans. “The SARS boss in Anambra told that any suspect arrested for any always mentioned the name of Eva According to him, the family had to involve a private investigator in the case at a point when there was no longer news about their father’s whereabouts months after the family paid the ransom. In addition to this, he said a friend of his based in Israel helped to track his father’s line and traced it to a young lady, who said Nonso was his boyfriend. Chikelue told Saturday PUNCH, “When we arrested the girl, she sai gave her the phone for safe-keepin her not to put it on. We started tra a point, the current leader of the I gave us 18 of his men to follow u Benin Republic because our trace showed he was there. “We got there and the police arrest man, who said he came to buy a c number was not his and that he o use it to call somebody in Nigeria. to let him go when it was clear he “Later we left the Cotonou guy. Ag tracker traced him to Lokoja, Kogi Evan’s gang member arrested in Lokoja However, intelligence later suggested that Nonso was in Lokoja. According to him, he and other members of the gang were said to have relocated there immediately they shared the ransom because many security agencies were after the gang.
Chikelue said after identifying the hotel the suspect might be hiding in, some members of the SARS team in Kogi State moved in to make the arrest. He said, “I was in Lokoja for two private tracker before we arrested “When we got to the hotel with the we requested for the list of the pe the hotel. The hotel staff mentione with his girlfriend in one of the roo “We knocked on the door and the out. He said her boyfriend was in t But I was hearing a sound inside. escape through the window but SA were already stationed around the “He eventually came out and said Emmanuel. But I knew it was him because we had been able to obtai photograph ahead. “But because I did not want him to pretended it was not him and told operatives in his presence that the looking for was an older man. “He relaxed and was going inside him and said I wanted to ask him dialled his phone number there an rang, we took it and it showed the football’. The SARS operatives imm on him and handcuffed him. “I asked Nonso if he knew me, he I told him I was the footballer who saved with that name. He then ask ‘General’ – my alias – and I said y Saturday PUNCH learnt that as soon as Nonso was arrested, he became submissive. He reportedly pleaded for his life, saying he would provide any information the police needed. “He immediately told us that his le But he said there was no way we because he had fled to Lagos after of the operation. At this point, Non hope alive. He said my father was refused to give precise information our correspondent. The ex-footballer said he was very hopeful at that point and believed he was indeed going to get his father back alive.
Nonso, who was transported back to Anambra in the company of SARS operatives later provided the police with Evans’ phone line, with which they started tracking him. When the police team got to Anambra with the suspect, he reportedly began to plead not to be taken to SARS headquarters in the state for fear of being tortured and killed. He said he was willing to give up all the necessary information. Nonso told the police that Evans was always on the move after each operation. Chikelue said, “We were calling Ev his location but it was all abortive. later made to call another member called Awolowo to inform him that operation. “But Awolowo said he did not wan operation at the time because his to bed. Nonso said Awolowo was Asaba, Delta State group.” Suspects refused to confess The police later arrested Awolowo and two others. For many days, these suspects were said to have kept mum. It was learnt that they refused to divulge any information about Evans, which the police suspected was owing to the fact that they had taken an oath. In fact, one of the suspects, who was on the verge of confessing was said to have suddenly started acting like someone with a mental illness. Even Nonso’s girlfriend who was also arrested was said to have refused to give any information that could implicate her boyfriend. “The most shocking thing was that interrogated Nonso, he said that if wanted peace in Anambra, they sh He said she was the one responsi care of the gang and that she help drugs and collected ransom on the Chikelue said. But he said while all these were going on, his only concern was knowing his father’s whereabouts. One day, while Chikelue was at the SARS office, he found a sudden ally in an armed robbery suspect called Onyeso, who was detained there. Chikelue said, “He pulled me aside brother, you are a good man beca give money so that the police coul when you come here’. He said he me a privileged information. “He said if we wanted any result, Awolowo to the backyard and tell t shoot their gun in the air as if they He said the other one would start because they had indeed taken an “When the police did this, Nonso s confessing when he was told Awol killed. He said he would take us t father was buried. “We journeyed into the forest for t hours before we got to where they broke down and my sister who wa time fainted.” Saturday PUNCH learnt that the late Pa Iloenyosi was buried around Nneyi village in Umueri community. But most heartbreaking was the information that the old man might have been starved or beaten to death. When Nonso was asked how the old man died, he explained that it was the fault of those manning the hideout where Evans kept the man. Pa Iloenyosi was said to have been stripped to his underwear, kept in a cold room and beaten regularly in order to put more pressure on his children. Chikelue said, “While we were neg ransom, they would call and put th speaker so I could hear how they father would cry and beg me to fin ensure his freedom. “We buried him few days after we f and started the search for Evans. information Nonso gave us was th their way to a robbery when they g about my father and they diverted kidnap him. So, I was really partic arrest of Evans so that he could te community gave them the informati Chikelue said he was the happiest man in the world the day he heard Evans had been arrested. But he said he was particularly upset when he read that Evans was begging for his life with the excuse that he had never killed a victim before. “What Evans did to my family was thing anybody can experience. Wh been begging for sympathy, I just l death penalty for people like him is solution. Evans can never repent d second chance he is begging for.” Chikelue said the police were already aware of Evans connection to his father’s kidnap and murder and are taking it into account in the case against him.
Meanwhile, the Anambra State Police Command says it is liaising with its Lagos State counterpart on the records of Evans’ past crimes in the state.
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