By Yekeen Nurudeen
It baffles how we as a people and a nation got to this point; we now glamorize crimes and criminalities. No more ethos; our moral values have died and we now glorify robbers, kidnappers and drug pushers. The recent absurd and annoying campaign for the release of a notorious kidnapper is a signpost that Nigerians have taken impunity to another level-a very confounding one for that matter. We are fast becoming a nation without moral. Little wonder when the family of a drug pusher executed in Indonesia in 2016 gave their late son a heroic burial; though a criminal in all sense of it.
At a point the nation is battling to surmount what has now become another organized crime; kidnapping, some Nigerians are promoting it. This is the peak of moral debasement that our society has degenerated into.
The arrest of Chukwudumeme Onwuamadike, billionaire kidnapper better known as Evans, on June 10, 2017 raised hope that there can actually be an end to the menace of kidnapping. From East to South, West and the North, kidnappers, like terrorists have taken over the society; everyone is at their mercy. It is a near hopeless situation that we are now. But Evans’ much publicized arrest has given some rays of hope that the security agencies have actually not been sleeping over the menace of kidnapping and it offers some relief too.
But the notorious kidnapper’s confession like someone suffering mouth diarrhea, and his sudden new lease of life making him to plea for forgiveness is without doubt to hoodwink Nigerians into believing that he is now a born again.
He said: “I believe in God, that was why I mandated my wife to always wake my children up for prayers. My favourite bible passage is Psalm 23. My wife does not know why I loved the Psalm so much. I loved it because of the sins I have committed. I always asked my children to ask for forgiveness for me and also pray that I should not die young. “I believe in God, because he’s the only one that can save me from the problem I find myself in. I believe it was greed that pushed me into kidnapping. I don’t believe in Juju.”
To all these: I say, it can’t work. Nigerians can’t be deceived and some people say in local parlance “stories for the gods”.
He claimed to have dropped out of school saying “I dropped out of school at JSS2, when my father refused to send me to school. I have been fending for myself since I was 10 with the support of my mother, presently my mother is paralyzed. She’s on sick bed”. To this claim, I say, you are not the only one in this category. Many influential Nigerians who earn their living legitimately are self-made. Stories of Nigerian football stars that grew up in the popular ghetto “Ajegunle” and made it against all odds are inspiring. Ask Atiku Abubakar, Aliko Dangote, Mike Adenuga, they all could have become wayward but rather took their destiny in their hands. Today their stories inspire millions of young Nigerians. Evans just has no excuse to become a kidnapper.
A man who lamented that he wouldn’t have been apprehended if he had not vacated one of his dens at Jakande estate, Lagos, couldn’t be taken as a repentant sinner. And some faceless Nigerians are mounting campaign on his behalf for his freedom.
“Jakande was a good location for business, but I had to leave that place as soon as I noticed that people were becoming suspicious. I moved to Igando after Jakande. If I had known, I would have been using the place. See what has happened to me at Igando?” Evans was quoted as said.
With all the ransoms that he collected in dollars, naira and even euros and of course the torture he subjected all his victims to, the now famous kidnapper has suddenly become a born again Christian. There’s nothing bad in being remorseful and seeking forgiveness. Perhaps, the campaigners forgot that Evans threatened his victims with death and even shot at some of them.
The scripture also says that the Lord does not want the death of a sinner but for him to repent, though the same scripture says “death is the wage of sin”. Whatever the Lagos State law prescribes for kidnapping, justice must be seen to have been done when police conclude investigation and charge him to court.
For the crime committed, Evans deserves to face the music; for the pains the victims went through in his hands and his boys and more importantly, for the psychological trauma that the victims and their families suffered, will be right for any sane human being to mount a campaign for his release?
“I collected $1 million from Udoji. Emesbose paid $300,000 while another person I can remember, paid $250,000. “I kept just two victims in Igando: Chief Umeh and Chief Donatus Duru who, escaped from the house. We collected 23 million euros from the family. Actually, we were demanding for 300 million euros. We were expecting the balance but since the family did not bring it, I told my boys to release him, but they kept holding him. I was sad when my boys called that Duru escaped from our camp.
“Jakande was a good location for business, but I had to leave that place as soon as I noticed that people were becoming suspicious. I moved to Igando after Jakande. If I had known, I would have been using the place. See what has happened to me at Igando?”
Those were his confessions and some anti-people, anti-progress are calling for his release. What will Udoji, Chief Umeh and Duru who all suffered the misfortune of being kidnapped, tortured and paid ransom to gain their freedom say? What about the shock, scar and everything you can think of that their abduction has resulted to for them and their immediate families and businesses?
The police also said that they were under pressure to release the kidnapper; can the force unveil the faces behind such pressure. Evans’ arrest presents a rare opportunity for the federal government to make a scapegoat out of him to send strong signals to his ilk who are still out there terrorizing innocent Nigerians.
And government must score a point with his arrest and eventual conviction. We know how many kidnappers have been arrested, paraded but nothing has been heard of them since. It would be disastrous for Nigeria and Nigerians if Evans end up like those of others.
Another version was added to the maniac surrounding his remand and confession; he should be taken to a church for deliverance. And I asked, is he bewitched or possessed to commit all the atrocities to have warranted deliverance?
Now listen to the most annoying statement from him: “I did not enjoy all the money I made from kidnapping because I was always on the run. I am regretting my actions in life. I did not go to clubs, hotels because I was afraid that policemen would come after me. If I am given a second chance, I would be the most grateful person on earth and I promise to be an advocate of anti-kidnapping in the country.”
That’s your cup of tea my dear Evans; the second chance is inside the Prison.
Either as a born again kidnapper or a delivered criminal, Evans should please do all that inside Kirikiri Maximum Prison if he is lucky that death sentence is not the eventual penalty for his numerous crimes. There are thousands of inmates waiting to listen to his story and repent. He would be enthroned a chaplain there; souls are many there to be won for Christ and become anti-kidnapping ambassadors but definitely not when he has not faced the music.
Yekeen is a journalist based in Abuja