Uchenna Ugwu, 30, got lucky when two customers named Anieme and Ike approached him for a ride to Ojota at Agric Bus Stop in Ikorodu, Lagos, two months ago. Although the fare was N400, Ugwu’s passengers paid him N500.
A week later, the same men met Ugwu again at the same spot and asked for a ride to Oshodi.
After dropping them off at a hotel, the men paid Ugwu N1000 instead of N800. When they requested his telephone number, the grateful commercial motorcycle operator was only too happy to oblige them.
A few days later, Ugwu received another phone call from the same men. They asked him to buy some food items and meet them in a certain house on Ishawo Road in Ikorodu.
The okada rider bought some rice and went to the place where the two men were waiting to receive the parcel. The next day, they called again and asked him to buy four packets of noodles and a loaf of sliced bread.
Once again, Ugwu obliged. But when he got to the small bungalow, Anieme and Ike were not waiting outside to receive him, as is their practice. He decided to locate their room in the building.
“I found their room and went in. I was shocked to find a man tied to a bed. When Anieme and Ike noticed the shock on my face, they threatened to kill my family if I told anyone what I saw. I believed they would do it because they knew where I lived. They had had promised me to give me some money to rent a decent accommodation because I lived in an uncompleted building,” he said.
But the Commissioner of Police in Lagos State, Mr. Umaru Manko, described Ugwu as a member of a gang that specialised in armed robbery and kidnapping.
The police chief said, “A member of the staff of a first generation bank, Tunde Aliyu, was kidnapped by an armed gang last month. The case was reported at the Ikoyi Police Division by members of his family.
“Aliyu was returning from work when he was abductted at Gbagada. Some phone calls were made with Ugwu’s phone number to Aliyu’s family demanding a ransom of N5m. After the ransom was paid, Aliyu regained his freedom on Aug. 12.
“The DPO of Ikoyi Division, Mrs. Aishat Haruna, continued with the investigation and Ugwu was tracked through his phone number to his home at Itorogbo, Ikorodu. Unfortunately, the other members of the gang had fled with their own share of the loot. Ugwu himself was paid some money for his role in the kidnap. The sum of N280,000 was recovered from his house at the time of his arrest.
“The case was transferred to the Special Anti-Robbery Squad in Ikeja that same night Ugwu was apprehended. The victim (Aliyu) however, is yet to come to SARS to make any statement.”
Ugwu however denies the allegations, though he was unable to explain how the ransom demand was made with his cell-phone.
“I am not a kidnapper, I never planned with Anieme and Ike to kidnap Aliyu. I just knew them as my customers. The day after I bought noodles for them was a Sunday. They called and asked me to meet them at Agric bus stop, that they were about to travel but that they would call me as soon as they came back. I had to rush there; I was even asleep when they called.
“They had earlier promised me some money for running all their errands; they gave me N200,000. The police found this money in my house in addition to another N80,000 which was my own personal money. Unfortunately for me, Anieme and Ike have travelled. They are the only ones who can come and bail me out of this mess,” he said.