The Lagos State Police Command has arrested a teenager, Ujunwa Offiah, for allegedly conspiring with her boyfriend, Blessed Ifesinachi, to fake her kidnap and demand N30m ransom from her family.
The police also arrested an accomplice, Precious Chukwu, 22, whose phone was reportedly used to negotiate with Offiah’s family.
The state Commissioner of Police, Hakeem Odumosu, while parading the suspects at the command headquarters on Monday, said the principal suspect, Ifesinachi, was at large.
Odumosu said, “This is a case of conspiracy and staged kidnapping, and the man at the centre of this case, who happens to be a Uber driver, is still at large. We are going after him because he conspired with one of these two ladies, Offiah, who faked her kidnap.
“He cleverly used the phone of another girlfriend, Precious (Chukwu), to contact Offiah’s family, informing them that their daughter had been kidnapped.
“He requested N30m from Offiah’s family to get her freed and during negotiations, which involved the police, they settled for N700,000. While the money was being dropped, we took action and in the process arrested Offiah and Precious.”
Speaking with PUNCH Metro, Offiah said she joked about the kidnap with Ifesinachi, adding that she was surprised he took it seriously.
She said, “I met Ifesinachi in October, and when we got talking, I jokingly told him to kidnap me so that he would collect ransom from my sister. I never knew that he took it seriously until he told me he had gone to the village to meet a native doctor and also discussed with his guys about the deal. When he said he was ready, he realised that I was scared and threatened to kill me if I informed anybody of the plan.
“So, I refused to tell anybody because he is a cultist. On November 27, on my way back from school, I went to meet him and a girl, Patience, at 2nd Rainbow, and from there, we went to a hotel. At the hotel, he called my sister to demand N30m as ransom, but when I heard that my grandmother had collapsed in the village because of what happened to me, I told him to accept any amount they offered.
“On Thursday, he went to get the money and came back to the hotel on Friday morning. He told me he collected N600,000 and released me thereafter. When I saw my family members, I told them that I was kidnapped by some guys. I lied to my family and the police, because he threatened to kill me, including my sister’s children. It was when I saw his girlfriend and my schoolbag that I confessed about the whole kidnap.”
Chukwu denied knowing that her phone was being used to negotiate the ransom.
She said, “He (Ifesinachi) asked for my phone that he wanted to use it for business. I never knew he wanted to use it to do this kind of a thing. I was at my workplace when the police came to arrest me.”
The police also paraded three suspected cultists, Ismail Fatai, 23; Sherif Haruna, 22; and Dare Gabriel, 26, for allegedly terrorising residents in different parts of Lagos.
The police claimed that Fatai terrorised people in the Lamgbasa area, adding that two people had “lost their lives through his actions and inactions.”
A locally-made pistol was reportedly recovered from the suspect.
Ten other suspects were also arrested for the burning of the Ajeromi Ifelodun Local Government Area secretariat during the #EndSARS protest.
They are Abdulganiyu Abeeb, 30; Adetunji Senyi, 27; Ahmed Animashaun, 28; Alowonle Lawal, 28; Taiwo Nuah, 19; Abdulkareem Fawasi, 18; Kabiru Alabi, 28; Isah Joseph, 37; and Ridwan Oladipupo, 18.
The CP stated that all the suspects would be charged for the crime.