These were information, which emerged as the Inspector General of Police Intelligence Response Team released the result of its investigation and a sting operation, which led to the arrest of the suspected kidnappers.
Atama-Pepple was arrested on July 15, 2017, when he went to play golf at the Port Harcourt Golf Club at the Old GRA.
According to details of the investigation obtained by Saturday PUNCH, the gang had an insider, Collins Nkue, who had worked as a caddy at the golf club for six years.
He was said to have monitored the doctor’s movement each time he visited the golf club.
An IRT official involved in the investigation, which was led by Assistant Commissioner of Police, Abba Kyari, said, “On July 15, the gang members were on standby when Nkue sent them the doctor’s number plate, vehicle’s colour and even the colour of the cap he was wearing.
“When the doctor left the club, the gang trailed him to a store where he stopped at Ogbunabali area of Port Harcourt. A member of the gang, known as Obufia Isokoariari, aka Joe Boy, who was armed with an AK-47 and wore a mask, was the first person to attack the doctor, but he fell in a gutter.
“Then, J-Boy’s colleague, Alali Godday, aka Pompo, alighted from their vehicle and used the AK-47 he was also holding to shoot in the air in order to scare the man.”
Saturday PUNCH learnt that at this point, the leader of the gang, Igbalatee Lawson, aka Agbami, who was masked as well, came out with his own rifle and grabbed the man.
Atama-Pepple was shoved inside a waiting Toyota Spider saloon car and he was blindfolded.
The IRT said the doctor was taken to Okwele Waterside in Diobu-Mile 1 area of Port Harcourt and put in a boat operated by two suspects – MonimaPrincewill, aka Gboko, and NoboNgia. He was then taken to a creek in Buguma Town, where he was kept for nine days.
Thereafter, the kidnappers demanded a ransom of N50m.
The IRT official said, “At about 9 pm on July 20, 2017, Agbami (gang leader) and three other members of his gang, including one ChibuzorAnudo (aka Dada), went to Emenike Street at Mile 1, Diobu and collected a ransom of N8m, which had been brought in a carton by Atama-Pepple’s younger brother.
“The suspects immediately went to a hotel around the area where they shared the money.”
However, Saturday PUNCH learnt that despite the payment of the initial ransom, the kidnappers refused to release the doctor.
Agbami’s second in command, Godday, allegedly commenced another round of negotiations with the victim’s family after which he collected an additional sum of N1.5m. The doctor was released after this.
But the Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, was said to have deployed the IRT, ordering the team to track down the kidnappers.
Godday, Lawson, Isokoariari, Princewill, Ngia, Chibuzor Anudo, Victor Frank and Victor Anoro were later arrested by the team.
IRT’s investigation revealed that the suspects had planned the operation for one months before they carried it out.
“They all took an oath at a native doctor’s house at Elehi Beach, Mile 1. They used a charm called Ogoni Wonders. They swore that no one would betray the gang and the native doctor also assured them that none of them would ever be arrested by the police,” the IRT official said.
When the leader of the gang, Agbami was arrested, some AK-47 rifles were found in his house.
In his statement, Agbami, 28, a native of Asaritoru Local Government Area of Rivers State, said he was driven into kidnapping when some naval personnel destroyed his oil bunkering business.
He said, “I was a commercial motorcyclist at a time but I later went into illegal oil bunkering. I started with five drums and when I made enough money, I set up my own refinery, where I was cooking crude oil and producing diesel.
“I was about supplying over 350 drums of refined AGO to some of my customers, when some naval personnel raided my base and demanded N250,000 bribe. When I could not give it to them, they destroyed my things.
“The boat I used in conveying the products was not mine and after the destruction of everything, I ran into debts and the people I owed money were disturbing me.”
“All the AK-47 rifles that were found in my house belonged to my friend, Iminabo Isokra, a militant and politician, who was killed during the last election crisis. He was beheaded.
“Before his death, he buried his rifles in the forest. I was with him when he hid them. I fled the community when Isokra was killed during the election.
“When I came back, words got out to Isokra’s killers that I was back and they came looking for me. They came to my house and shot one of my uncles. I was angry. So I went to where my friend buried his guns to take them. When next the killers came to my house, we exchanged gunfire and one of them was killed while the rest escaped.”
According to him, he burnt the body of the one that was killed.
He told the IRT that Godday, his second-in-command, was the one who informed him of the kidnap plan.
He said, “I met Pompo (Godday) in Port Harcourt and we went along with four others to the native doctor who administered an oath and gave us a charm that would make us successful.
I got N1m from the ransom while Pompo also got N1m.
“I didn’t know that Pombo collected more money from the man’s family.”
On his own part, Isokoariari, 24, said he got into crime because his father’s death put an end to his education.
He said his problem started in 2016 when his friend, Godday, stole a car and gave it to him for safekeeping.
The suspect said, “When he was arrested by the police and brought to my house, the police recovered the car and took me along with him. We were both charged to court and granted bail, but Pompo came out first because his family had money and I ended up spending six months in prison. I was released on March 30, 2017.
“My family told me to leave Port Harcourt and go to Imo State. I did so but I came back to Port Harcourt in July 2017 and I met Pompo (Godday). That was when he told me about the kidnap plan.
“He made it clear to me that all he wanted from me was to connect him to Agbami, who is my brother. He said he knew Agbami had a speed boat, a camp and some rifles. He said if Agbami supported us, the operation would be successful.”
When they eventually got the first ransom of N8m, Isokoariari said he got N700,000, part of which he used to buy a television set.
He said they decided to get more money from the victim’s family because Agbami cheated them.
He said, “We threatened the doctor’s brother and told him that the people who kidnapped him were not the ones he paid money to.
“The brother must have got scared because he eventually begged and paid. I know I have committed a huge crime, because this is not my first time. I am happy now because I have given my life to Christ.”
The police said the suspects would be charged to court as soon as the investigation was concluded.
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