Kamaldeen was standing outside his office on Aug. 24, 2012 when an Audi car with four passengers suddenly pulled up close to him. The occupants were armed with guns. Without saying a word, they pounced on him.
The strangers slapped Kamaldeen in the face and dragged him into the idling car.
“It happened so fast that witnesses were temporarily paralysed with fear. One of the boys even wore a bullet-proof vest in the manner of policemen. In fact, initially I thought they were policemen.
“They warned me not to say anything as it might be used against me in a court of law. I wasn’t even blindfolded. Although I was surprised and worried, it wasn’t until we got to Itoki junction that I suspected something was amiss,” Kamaldeen said.
Instead of heading to a police station, the vehicle conveying the ‘policemen’ and their captive veered off the road and drove into the bush. When Kamaldeen panicked and dared to ask where he was being taken, he was soundly beaten again. This confirmed his fears that he had just been kidnapped.
“I began to scream for help. Although we were approaching the seaside and there was more sand than grass, my captors tried to increase the speed of the vehicle. Unfortunately for them, the car sank into the sand and we got stuck. I continued to scream and a crowd began to gather. When my captors could no longer stand it, they got out of the car and shot into the air. The crowd quickly dispersed within seconds and my captors came out and pushed the car.
“They started the car again, drove as close to the creeks as they could get and began calling a contact for a boat immediately we got there,” Kamaldeen said.
While they waited for the boat, Kamaldeen’s captors descended on him, beating him mercilessly. The registration plates of the vehicle were removed and Kamaldeen was doused with fuel. The kidnappers threatened to set him ablaze. Not long afterwards, a speed boat came by and they all entered it. There were about 10, 100-litre jerry cans, possibly containing fuel for the eight hour journey to Warri, Delta State, in the boat.
At intervals, they encountered what looked like checkpoints manned by other kidnappers in the creeks. At each of these checkpoints, the kidnappers would be asked to identify themselves and Kamaldeen’s captors would raise their hands in response.
“At about 8 pm, we came across another set of guards. These ones were dressed in police uniforms. An hour later, we ran into yet another bunch of guards dressed in army uniforms. It was a frightening journey. There were thick forests on either side of the river all the way from Ikorodu to Delta State.
“By the time we got to the last sentry post late that night, my captors raised their hands, guns and legs in response. I was chained to the boat. I couldn’t move a muscle. The security man at the camp waved us through by flashing his torchlight.
“I was taken into the camp, which was a big clearing surrounded by many huts. The huts contained many kidnap victims. I was brought before the head of the kidnappers, who was dressed in a suit and queried me as regards my occupation. He was unimpressed when he discovered I was neither a captain of industry nor a politician but just an ordinary citizen. I was then taken to a section of the camp suitable for my station in life and passed the night on a bed made of logs of wood,” Kamaldeen recalled.
The camp itself was like a scene out of a movie. Many young men armed with sophisticated weapons guarded the camp. Kamaldeen’s captors had earlier boasted that the camp was impenetrable as the syndicate had on several occasions attacked military installations and looted them.
The next day, Kamaldeen’s captors contacted his family with his phone and demanded a ransom of N150m. By the next day, the ransom was reduced to N70m and two days later, to N30m.
Despite all their efforts, Kamaldeen’s family was only able to raise N5m. Frightened that he would be killed as the kidnappers had threatened, Kamaldeen pleaded with his captors to release him, promising to send more money if he was released.
My relatives were instructed to drop the money, which was concealed in a carton, on a major road linking Benin City to Delta state, beside a signboard which welcomed travelers to the state,” Ramaldeen said.
“Immediately they received the ransom, I was brought out of the camp at 6 am and taken to a road where we waited till 8 am before a commercial motorcyclist arrived. The kidnappers told the okada man to take me to Koko junction. They paid him N3000. Already, they had told my family to wait for me and pick me up there. So when I got there, I met my family waiting.”
Kamaldeen’s abductors held him for 12 days before the ransom was paid.
Already, three suspects – Joel Ebigbaa, Raymond Urueshe and Phillip Tomi – have been arrested by the Special Anti-Robbery Squad Lagos in connection with the kidnap.
The Lagos State Commissioner of Police, Mr. Umar Manko confirmed the arrests to CRIME DIGEST.
Describing Ebigbaa, Urueshe and Tomi as members of a larger syndicate of kidnappers based in the creeks of Delta State, he said, “Ebigbaa and Tomi incidentally were part of the group who kidnapped Kamaldeen. Urueshe, on the other hand, was part of another group, still belonging to the same syndicate, who had earlier kidnapped a legislator with the Lagos State House of Assembly, Hon. Taofeek Aderiye, and had demanded a ransom of N30m, which the bank refused to cash.
“After Kamaldeen’s case was transferred from the Agbowa division to SARS, the investigative team made an arrangement with some of these hotels to report strange visitors to the police. Luckily, on the 13th of September, the three suspects checked into a hotel at Lekki and the police were notified. By midnight, the police stormed the place and took them into custody. Upon interrogation, they confessed to the crime and Kamaldeen has been able to identify two of them as part of the group that kidnapped him.”