Meanwhile, as they enjoyed their ride, little did they know that danger was lurking in one corner of the next adjourning street! Suddenly, reminiscent of a commando-style double-cross, a Toyota Camry car punctuated their blissful pleasure. The Camry was unmarked. From the bowels of the Camry alighted two fierce-looking armed men. Their instruction was simple yet dangerous.
"Get down", the armed men shouted at the occupants of the Infinity SUV. They did.
"Enter this car now", they screamed at them, pointing in the by-now-opened Camry, they ordered. Idemudia and the Princess, obeyed with immediate alacrity.
The gunmen also entered the Camry, sandwiching their captors in the rear compartment of the Camry. Frightened to their marrows, the captured couple could only plead for mercy. The Infinity SUV was left, doors opened, engines running on Olotu Road.
"We are kidnappers", they rudely introduced themselves.
But had they just introduced themselves as men of the underworld, the fright of the couple would have been limited.
The gunmen added a caveat: They warned that they would only be hurt if they did not co-operate. Of course, the instruction to cooperate as clear and straight forward enough. So, while speeding away through the Murtala Mohammed way to a camp-site at Ikpoba hill where they were to be handed over to another set of bandits, a team of policemen stationed along the road flagged down the Camry. The car was being dangerously manipulated by the driver and this attracted the attention of the Policemen.
All the occupants of the car were ordered to come down.
It was in the process of being interrogated that the captors surprisingly took to their heels abandoning their preys and arms.
That was how fate smiled on Idemudia and Princess Onaiwo. They regained their freedom. The Camry car and the arms have since been taken to the Command headquarters for investigation.
But if Idemudia and Princess Onaiwo were lucky, the same was not the case for several others including a prominent woman and wife of the number one lawyer in the state (names withheld) who was kidnapped along 19th Street, the longest street in the state by four armed men. She only regained her freedom after coughing out millions of Naira. This has been the trend and residents of the ancient city of Benin lived with fear until quite recently when the police changed their tactics.
There have been raids carried out by the Police. The 'receiver' of kidnapped victims who also doubles as the third in command in the hierarchy of the terror gang in the state, along with four of his cohorts where rounded up by the police in their various hideouts.
They made confessions on their respective roles in the vicious circle of kidnapping:
First to speak was the receiver of victims:
"My name is Rowel, l am 24 (years old) from Azacrama in Delta State. I (went) to Western Boys, Benin City, but I could not finish because of poverty; my father is poor – a retired soldier. My mother is a fisher woman. I was a member of one the militant groups in the Niger Delta but when government gave us amnesty, we submitted some of our arms and ammunition.
"Some of us were not listed for the amnesty programme and so we thought the way to survive is to rob. I joined a gang of armed robbers and I was making some money but not enough to assist me and my parents.
"So I quit armed robbery and went back to my old gang of militants and all over, we formed another gang of kidnapping. I soon realized that kidnapping was much more lucrative and less stressful. But unfortunately, I have only participated in two operations and my sole responsibility is to receive victims, hand them over to a 'crosser' at the river side and call our 'generals' that we have caught a mugu. It is the responsibility of our general to start calling and placing ransom. They collect the money and later give us our share of the loot.
I do not know how they collect the money but I had the opportunity of standing with 'general Boro' the head of the squad when he was calling a relation of our victims to bring the (ransom) money and that if he tries to involve the police, we will kill the man in our custody. His second-in-command is called Moses. The first operation earned us N5m and I received N2.3m which I shared among my men. Like I said, my role is to receive the victims from them and transfer them to the generals in the camp inside Ikpoba Hill. It is the generals that will be making the calls and subsequently collect the ransom.
The generals are still in Delta State. The camp there is called waterside; it is one of us that own canoe that will now carry the victims over to the other side of the river. Immediately they catch a victim, they will control me (contact me) and I will receive the victims and hand over to them at the camp. Boro and Moses are the generals but Boro is the head. You know we submitted arms to the federal government but when government was not paying well, there was a quarrel between the heads so Boro went to form his own gang of which I am a member. So it is Boro and Moses that will call relations of the victims to demand for ransom. I have only participated in two kidnapping incidents and the total money we made was just N8m.
The first one was N5m, the generals took N3m and gave me N2m which I shared among the gang members, the second one was N3m and the generals took N1.5m and gave us the balance which I also shared with my men. I quit armed robbery when I discovered that it was more daring and dangerous compared to kidnapping. In kidnapping, all you need to do is intimidate the victim and they will simply obey you; and before you know it, big money has been paid. But in robbery sometimes, you can't make more than N100,000 and the victims in most cases would have secretly called the police. So it is more profitable to kidnap than to rob", he concluded.