A senior police officer, who arrested kidnap kingpin, Chukwudi Onuamadike, aka Evans, and members of his gang in 2006, shares the encounter with Gbenga Adeniji
How did you meet Evans?
There was a time in 2006 that a gang of robbers attacked a commercial bank in Lagos and went somewhere around the National Arts Theatre, Iganmu, to share the loot. While sharing the loot, the robbers had a disagreement and shot one another. Seven members of the gang died instantly. The then Divisional Police Officer of Iponri Police Station, Yahaya Bello, now a deputy commissioner of police, said there was a serious incident involving some persons who shot at one another. He said about three of them had been arrested.
What happened thereafter?
One of the members of the gang arrested then was Chukwudi Onuamadike, popularly known as Evans. If you look at his chest, I cannot remember whether it is the right or left side, there is a scar. It was as a result of the gunshot from his gang members that day. He bled and there was no way he could run away before the police came. The case was transferred to the Lagos State Anti-Robbery Squad. We investigated and discovered that they were armed robbers. Evans led the team. We also went to Mbidi Police Station, Imo State, to carry out an investigation on them. We were able to arrest two other members of the gang. We then had five of them in police custody.
Were you able to prosecute him?
There was a policewoman at the Band Section of the Police College, Lagos. She was known as Tina, a Superintendent of Police. She insisted that we should drop the case and that Onuamadike (Evans) was her brother. But when she was unable to achieve her aim, she travelled to Imo State. Not long after, we got a message from the Imo State Police Command that they had been searching for Evans and asked us to transfer the case to them so they could continue from where we stopped. Since that time, we did not hear anything. We heard he was later released there.
How did you know that he was the notorious kidnap kingpin arrested by the police not long ago?
I saw his pictures. I know the man we arrested alongside members of his gang in 2006. But one thing was that he was not bearing the alias, Evans, at the time. We identified him only as Chukwudi. Some of the persons we worked together on the case also called me to draw my attention to the fact that he was the one arrested.
Do you know if he was married at the time he was arrested for robbery?
I cannot say. You know that many criminals would be unwilling to share that part except we investigate.
Was Evans the only one released or other members were also set free then?
He couldn’t have been the only person released. The request was that we should transfer the case to them. We sent him and two members of his gang to the command. There is a hotel in Okota area where they used to meet to share their loot. The owner of the hotel was their friend. There was a time they robbed three banks in Alaba International Market in 2005. They also looted shops there. One of the owners of the shop complained to the police and we carried out an investigation. We discovered that some of the items stolen in the man’s shop were digital cameras. We traced the cameras to the hotel and into the office of the hotel owner. It was then that ‘big men’ started calling from everywhere that we should drop the charges against them. The owner of the hotel was later killed by the robbers, following a disagreement. His body was dumped by the roadside in one of the states in the East sometime ago.
What potential threat do you think Evans can constitute to the society if he finds his way out again?
He can form a terrorist group being a hardened criminal. We are talking about a man that would not release his victims until his exact ransom was paid.
How best do you think his case can be handled?
The best way to handle his case is for the police to do their work. They should do a proper investigation. If it will take four months to investigate him, they should do so. He has links in South Africa, Ghana, etc. I know him. Bank robbery and hijacking of bullion vans is easy for him and his gang members. He didn’t hesitate to shoot any member of his gang suspected of foul play.
But in his reported pleas, he gave a picture of being non-violent?
Forget about that. It is expected. No criminal would say he ever killed anybody, except after a thorough investigation has nailed him or her.
Why do you think he embraced kidnapping since you noted that he probably started as an armed robber?
I really cannot say because I have not seen him since we took him and his other members to Imo State. I think he only tried to adopt another criminal act he believed would fetch him more money. It is all about greed. He wanted more and more. He kept amassing wealth because he wanted to show off.
Editor’s Note: The policeman’s identity is concealed to protect him from persecution.