The visit of stern looking policemen in three vans to Odubotu compound, located in Okesopen area of Ijebu-Igbo,Ogun state, sent fear down the spine of members of the sleepy community.
The armed men reportedly jumped out of the vehicles and positioned themselves strategically around the building.
Some of them reportedly stormed into one of the rooms, where they dragged out a herbalist identified as MukailaDauda..
Not done, the policemen, discovered to be operatives from the Special Anti Robbery Squad, SARS, of the Ogun State Police Command, again, dashed inside the herbalist’s apartment, taking him along and conducted a search, in the process of which they reportedly came out with two AK 47 rifles, a pump action rifle, a barretta pistol, a cut-to-size locally made short gun and assorted charms.
The 46-year-old herbalist was subsequently whisked away in one of the police vans.
The fear stricken neigbours later came out of their hiding, with expression of confusion and which needed clarification on their faces. The explanation was provided, following the allegation that the herbalist was a member of a kidnaps gang that had been terrorizing Ogun and neigbouring states.
Arrested alongside Dauda were four other suspected members of the syndicate identified as Ahmed Adebanjo, Tunde Akilo, a popular commercial motorcyclist, Sunkanmi Dacosta and Lateef Agboola.
Preliminary investigation, according to the police, revealed that the suspects may have been responsible for several cases of kidnapping in Ijebu axis. One of their victims, the herbalist allegedly told the police, was one Chief Alakoso, a prominent businessman, who was kidnapped three months ago around Emu Eleni area of the state and released after a ransom of N2 million was paid.
In this interview with Sunday Vanguard, Dauda, a father of six, disclosed that his role in the kidnapping saga was to keep abducted persons until ransom was paid, adding that he usually got N300,000 at the end of each operation.
He disclosed that some of the victims were rich clients who had come to him for spiritual assistance, while others were abducted in connivance with their relatives. According to him, most of the victims were not abducted with charms, which hypnotized them. The herbalist explained that rituals were performed on the kidnappers before embarking on any abduction trip, to enable them succeed.
Dauda explained why he joined the syndicate. “I am a herbalist. I have been into the profession for 25 years. I specialise in curing strokes and other ailments which are beyond medical treatment. At a point, business was no longer moving and feeding my two wives and six children became burdensome. It was at this point that I met Tunde Akilo, a commercial motorcyclist, and Sunkanmi Dacosta, who introduced me to kidnapping.
My role is to keep victims in my house, pending when their families would pay ransom. I never went out with them but I gave them names of prominent persons in Ijebu Igbo. Some of these people have patronized me.
“The first person that was brought to my house was one Chief Alakoso. He was brought in March, blindfolded. I got N300,000 after ransom was paid four days later, for keeping him in my place. This amount was aside my regular share from the loot because that was the bargain. Also, two Onipomo in Ijebu Igbo were kept in my place. I also gave their contacts to my members.
“I usually prepared charms to fortify members before they go for any job. This is to enable them get their catch without trouble. I also prepared charms that will make victims lose their senses. A day before they would leave, I would lit fire and say some incantations into it. The fire will be on until they arrived. But if it goes off in the process, that means they have entered into trouble”, said the herbalist.
Members of the kidnap syndicate, some of who were alleged to be members of separate robbery gangs and cult groups, reportedly set out last month for their usual ‘job’. Destination was Ijebu-Ode /Ikorodu Road, Lagos State and their victim a herb seller otherwise called Iyaalagbo . Time was 7pm.
The herb seller was reportedly trailed from her Odogbolu residence in Ogun State to Itoikin by the abductors, numbering four. The unsuspecting trader was about closing for the day when they arrived, pretending to have come to buy herbs. Sensing all was not well; the woman reportedly told the strangers that she did not have what they requested for. But as she made to leave the shop, she was reportedly bundled into the kidnappers car and driven away, amidst sporadic gun shots, apparently aimed at scaring away intruders.
Midway into the journey to the herbalist’s house, the first incident that signaled doom for the kidnappers occurred, after the two back tyres of the vehicle punctured.
Explaining how they were arrested, Ahmed Adesanya, a commercial motorcyclist, from Omu Eleni town, claimed he only got a telephone call from one of his colleagues to bring his motorbike to the spot where the tyres punctured.
The 21-year-old suspect stated: “When I got to the place, I met one Mama Alagbo, our Okada unit chairman, Ahmed (Soldier), Yemi Agboola and Tunde Akilo inside the car. But four of them, including Mama Alagbo, took off on my motorcycle, while Yemi Agboola, Tunde Akilo and I drove in the car. But on reaching Imodi town, we met some policemen at a checkpoint, who insisted on checking the vehicle. Agboola and myself escaped into the bush but we did not see TundeAkilo. A week later, he (Akilo ) led policemen to my house and I was arrested”.
Asked what role he played, said, “I used my Okada to take some passengers to the herbalist’s house. My targets are usually passengers who do not know where they are going”.
I also belong to a robbery gang – Akilo
On his part, Akilo, who confessed to be a member of the Eiye Confraternity, also admitted to be involved in armed robbery operations within the Ijebu axis, apart from kidnapping.“He however, stated that he had only taken part in two abductions.
“I have only taken part in two kidnap operations. One was the abduction of Chief Alakoso, after which I was given N250, 000. The second operation was that of Mama Alagbo which unfortunately was unsuccessful. One Yemi Agboola, a relative to the woman, brought the deal to us . He said her relatives could provide N1 million if kidnapped. If I had known, I would have remained in the robbery gang instead of joining this syndicate”, he said remorsefully.
38-year-old Dascosta confessed to be a member of a robbery gang, claiming he was introduced into kidnapping by the herbalist, Dauda, when he went to him for spiritual protection. Like his colleague ,Akilo, he expressed regret for joining the kidnap syndicate, saying he had only earned N310,000 since he joined.
I am a victim of circumstance- Dascosta
When approached, Agboola (48) absolved himself of involvement in the kidnap saga, stating that his younger brother, Yemi Agboola, drove the Chevrolet car that was used in the kidnap of Mama Alagbo.. The brother was said to be on the run.
“Yemi came to me during the celebration of Kilajosu festival and said he wanted to use my car. I gave him the keys without suspecting any foul play and told him to return it the next day. He told me he wanted to drive it to Omu-Eleni”, he narrated.
“But to my shock, some policemen stormed my house and asked me to follow them to the station, only to be shown a vehicle which turned out to be mine. That was how I became a guest here. I have never robbed all my life, neither have I been involved in kidnap. I am only a victim of circumstance. My prayer is for the police to arrest my brother so that I will be vindicated”.