The Evans’ Story, By Dele Agekameh
If there is anything Nigerians earnestly ask for and wish could be granted, it is the security of life and property. The reason is simple. In recent times, the number of Nigerians who have lost their lives and hard-earned property to criminal activities is quite high. Such criminal activities include armed robbery, kidnapping, assassination, cultism, as well as brutality and mayhem unleashed by law enforcement officers on innocent citizens.
The security agents appear either overwhelmed or powerless because of the sophistication of the weapons being used by criminals. Besides, the security agents, particularly the Police, talk about lack of adequate welfare or insurance cover for them. This is why even though they are trained to combat criminals, the best option they always consider is to vote with their feet rather than confront menacing armed robbers, kidnappers, assassins and other hoodlums for fear of being sent to early graves.
Perhaps, it is for this reason and many more that criminals seem to be having the upper hand in their ruthless dare-devilry all over the place. So, recently when the police announced that they had finally apprehended Chukwudumeje Onwuamadike, known to his foot-soldiers as Evans, after many years of manhunt for the kidnap kingpin, it was celebration galore at the headquarters of the Lagos State Police command. Many people have also been rattled by the news, as they now make for any available news-stand each morning to read the latest information about the celebrated criminal.
From his personal account of his escapades, Evans is terror personified. As an apprentice at a very early age in life, after he stopped going to school shortly after his JSS3, he started stealing from his boss. From there, he rose rapidly on the ladder of crime by becoming an armed robber in his home state of Anambra, then moving to Edo State to continue his exploits and finally berthing in Lagos, where he expanded his coast and added kidnapping to his portfolio of crimes. In between, he had been to South Africa, where according to him, he tried his hands on drug peddling but had to retreat when he nearly lost his life after a disagreement with a client or customer who shot him in the shoulder and took him for dead.
Evans later found kidnapping more lucrative and easier to perpetrate. The returns were so high to the extent that he dared to be different by collecting ransom in dollars. According to him, his first breakthrough was through a victim in Festac Town, Lagos, who bought his freedom with $1 million, the equivalent of today’s N365 million! Not only this, Evans actually said he once mounted pressure on a rich man who paid him a whooping N100 million to avoid being kidnapped. At the last count, his victims had numbered more than 15 people, who have had to pay a minimum of $1 million each to buy their freedom.
…a steel safe was said to have been recovered from his house in Magodo. Up till today, nobody has mentioned that any money was recovered from his house. This is quite surprising, as a person like that who collects huge ransoms will certainly have some huge cash at home in whatever currency.
Nemesis, however caught up with him when a pharmacist his gang had abducted from his pharmaceutical company in the Ilupeju area of Lagos, miraculous escaped from the dungeon in the Igando area, also in Lagos, where he had been kept for more than a month. Even though the victim had parted with N100 million as ransom, Evans had insisted that he should complete the N500 million tag placed on his head or there was no deal. It was in the process that the man managed to escape and, thereafter, one thing led to another and Evans was picked up at his mansion in the Magodo area of Lagos. Since then, he has been singing like canary.
Nigeria has a history of well-heeled criminals who come to the national scene, from time to time. It is only when they are finally bursted by the security agents that their satanic exploits are chronicled for people to see. I am sure, before Evans was arrested, many people didn’t know that such a character existed in our midst. His story reads like the exploits of past celebrated criminals, including Ishola Oyenusi, Lawrence Anini, Kelvin Krekpe and many others who have all passed to the great beyond through violent deaths and public execution.
For those who are old enough to remember Ishola Oyenusi’s exploits in the early 70s, Oyenusi, an Okitipupa, Ondo State-born criminal, took the whole of the old Western Region by storm in the early 1970s, until his escapades were cut short by security agents when he was finally arrested. Unlike Evans who seems to be afraid of death, even though he has done incalculable harm to many of his victims and even killed some, Oyenusi dared it all. He was neither remorseful nor did he plead for leniency. All through his trial, he was taunting his prosecutors and boasting of some invincible powers. On the day he was executed with his gang members, he absolved so many bullets before he finally succumbed to death. The following day, a prominent newspaper went to town with the banner headline: “98 bullets to finish Oyenusi”.
Lawrence Anini, came to the scene between 1985 and 1987, when his gang took over Edo State, and particularly Benin City, the capital. He terrorised the people so much and dispatched quite a good number of people, including security agents to their early graves. He was finally executed by firing squad. Similarly, Kelvin Krekpe was the leader of the rampaging armed robbers who terrorised highbrow areas of Abuja like Maitama, Asokoro, Wuse and others between 1998 and 2001. His gang comprised a group of eight armed robbers who were mostly from the same part of the country – Warri and Ughelli – in Delta State.
…the life of Evans should be preserved at all costs so that we can get to the bottom of his criminal exploits and rein in all those involved. It is only then that we can breath the air of freedom, at least, for now.
Known as millionaire armed robbers because of their method of operation, mode of dressing and the exotic cars they rode about, they had operated together consistently for about 10 years before they were finally caught. When they seized Abuja by the jugular in 1998, their mode of dressing, usually in expensive suits churned out by the best designers around, earned them the sobriquet ‘Executive Robbers.’ Not only this, their choice of victims and areas of operation also contributed to this popular name in Abuja. The gang had no iota of respect for personalities and for any office. They made so much money because most of their victims were highly placed people.
Now, many years after, another celebrated criminal has surfaced, and this time with more chilling stories of his escapades. It appears that Evans’ strength in his criminal activities are the informants who give would-be victims away. These are either friends, business associates, family members or other close acquaintance of the victims. Evans himself has said that he only collects money on behalf of “those who own the money”, while he only collects his own share. Who are these people? We need to know.
Moreover, a steel safe was said to have been recovered from his house in Magodo. Up till today, nobody has mentioned that any money was recovered from his house. This is quite surprising, as a person like that who collects huge ransoms will certainly have some huge cash at home in whatever currency. Besides, Evans has mentioned that a certain monarch or Igwe, who also doubles as his native doctor, was part of his gang. We have not heard that the native doctor has been picked. Also, a medical doctor was said to always be on hand to treat the injured victims, who also should be treated as an accomplice.
Finally, those who are pounding the social media with the #FreeEvans campaign, are nothing more than the foot soldiers who may have been recruited by his accomplices yet to be unmasked. Remember, this is a multi-billion naira criminal enterprise and they would do anything to fight for their lives. And like erudite lawyer, Femi Falana and others have been saying, the life of Evans should be preserved at all costs so that we can get to the bottom of his criminal exploits and rein in all those involved. It is only then that we can breath the air of freedom, at least, for now.
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