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How police killed lawyer after ransom payment – Kidnap victim

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How police killed lawyer after ransom payment – Kidnap victim

Fate is an intricate decider of human life. So it was with an Enugu-based lawyer, Ellias Ugwu, 60, who went to rescue his kidnapped cousin in Kogi State, last week.

His cousin, Alexander Ugwu, 53, a businessman at Akpanya, Benue State, was going back to his base in a commercial bus when they encountered heavily armed Fulani herdsmen who blocked the highway while kidnapping.

His abductors later called demanding N10m. Though the ransom was later reduced to N4m, the lot fell on the Nsukka legal luminary to move into the bush and rescue Alexander.

This, he succeeded in doing after engaging another of his friend, to accompany him to the den of the kidnappers.

Tragically, as they were joyously returning home, calling friends and family members to share their joy, their excitement was cut short and turned into sorrow.

A team of policemen who were on the trail of bandits that earlier raided some police stations and banks at Anyigba, a nearby town, accosted them and the legal practitioner who was driving his car was shot dead.

Alexander, the kidnapped victim, who was at the back of the car when his uncle’s life was cut short, in this interview, gave vivid details of how the heart-wrenching incident happened. Excerpts:

How I was captured

“To commence my travel from Iheakpu-oka village to Anyigba on March 2, 2024, I boarded a vehicle going to Ejule from an Army checkpoint situated between Aloma and Ejule.

Precisely, the village called Iboko. While on our way, we encountered heavily armed herdsmen who were stopping vehicles, shooting and kidnapping people.

They kidnapped everyone in the car (six persons), including the driver. And we were all taken into the bush. The incident happened around 6:20 PM that Saturday, and I was there till Monday morning when they began to request for ransom.

Ransom

Before my phone went off, the first relation that I could speak to over the phone was my cousin, Elias Ugwu, whose father is my father’s elder brother.

I called him and told him the kidnappers were requesting for N10 million because, according to them, once an individual is from the Eastern part of the country, he or she must be wealthy.

I explained to them that I didn’t have money. They countered, saying if I didn’t have money, my relatives had. Meanwhile, they collected a ransom of N130,000 from the driver’s family.

Also, they collected N200,000 as ransom from the family of a first-year student at Kogi State University, KSU, who is from Ogugu, in Kogi State. Shocked by the ransom that they (driver and student) were asked to pay, I asked why my case was different.

However, If anyone talked, they would beat the hell out of the person. They later reduced my ransom to N4million. I was given the privilege to communicate the ransom to my uncle, who informed all my relatives including Iheakpuoka community in Anyigba about their demand.

When the money was finally raised, the kidnappers asked them to bring the ransom before they could rescue me.

Though my uncle was to come on Friday to pay the ransom and rescue me, he couldn’t make it. But when my captors finally called him at around 5 pm, he said he was at Ejule.

The kidnappers then told him what to buy for them. They told him to buy Nkpurummiri (hard drug), water and N10,000 pack of energy drinks.

Around 7 pm on Friday, they called him, and he said he couldn’t come to Aloma at that time because he was not only old to embark on such journey at that time, he was also afraid.

They, however, told him to sleep somewhere that they would tell him when and where to bring the ransom and the items the next day.

On Saturday morning, 9th of March, we started communicating with my uncle unknown to us that there was a bank robbery on Thursday in Anyigba, and this (his release) was happening on Saturday morning.

Rescue effort

So, the villagers who saw my uncle and his friend who were coming to rescue me, driving around, were the ones who called the police informing them that there is a vehicle roaming around the community through an escape road behind the university.

So, the policemen came and laid ambush. They parked their vehicle in the bush close to the road. When we were coming back, we saw a police vehicle packed distantly and we were happily approaching the vehicle.

The next thing we heard was ‘stop’ and then the sound of gunshots and my brother was hit on his head. He lost control, so the vehicle veered into the bush.

That was when one of the security people said they were police officers. I used a cloth to tie my uncle’s head because he was bleeding profusely.

They tried to pull out the vehicle, but we could not. The police then used something to attach it to their Hilux to pull out the vehicle. We already told them who we were, but it was already too late. They had finished searching the vehicle expecting to see a huge sum of money.

The kind of clothes I wore made them realise that I was a victim of kidnap, they became tired. They took us to Maria Goretti Hospital in Anyigba.

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