One of the victims of the alleged billionaire kidnapper, Chukwudumeme Onwuamadike (popularly known as Evans), on Friday narrated before an Ikeja Division of the Lagos State High Court how he escaped from captivity hours before he was to be killed.
Donatus Dunu, the last victim before the alleged kidnappers were arrested, while giving evidence before Hakeem Oshodi, the judge, said he spent 88 days in captivity before his “miraculous” escape last year.
He also told the judge how his family received a 50 percent discount on ransom from his abductors.
Messrs Evans, Uche Amadi, Ogechi Uchechukwu, Okwuchukwu Nwachukwu, Chilaka Ifeanyi, and Victor Aduba are facing a two-count charge of conspiracy and kidnapping.
Evans had initially pleaded guilty to the charge of kidnapping but later reversed his plea.
He – alongside Mr. Aduba – is also facing a four-count charge of conspiracy, kidnapping, and unlawful possession of firearms before Oluwatoyin Taiwo, a judge of the Ikeja Special Offences Court.
‘How I was kidnapped’
Mr. Dunu’s older brother, Anselm, who negotiated the ransom with the kidnappers, had testified and was cross-examined at a previous court sitting.
On Friday, Mr. Dunu recounted his experience in his kidnapper’s hands before the judge.
“On the 14th of February 2017 at about 7:30 pm, when I closed, I was going home along Obokun street, Ilupeju; I suddenly saw an SUV jeep in front of my car. I wanted to reverse back but somebody from the front of the SUV came down and pointed the gun on me and dragged me out of my car and pushed to the booth of the jeep and covered me with car cover,” he said.
“Somebody was lying on top of me and they took me to an unknown place. On our way, they brought out a locally made iron and put it in my hands. When we got to the place they dragged me down and took me to a bungalow house where they asked me to sit in the parlour of the house.
“They asked me my name, my wife’s name, my children’s name, and my town. After telling them their chairman asked them to go and bring gun and they brought a very long gun and pistol. They now showed me where they wrote AK47 in grey and the pistol was two colours, black and silver. They now tell me that they have confirmed that I’m the one they are looking for.”
Mr. Dunu said he was put in a dark room, told to remove his clothes, and given a boxer short before being blindfolded.
“I was there till daybreak and in the morning I asked to talk to their chairman.
“They brought a phone and said their chairman wants to talk to me. He asked me to cooperate that if I prove stubborn he would ask his boys to give me injection that will make me forget who I am or they would use pillow to suffocate me and nobody will know.
“After 2-4days, they brought back the phone and they told me my bill is $2 million. They gave me the phone and I was pleading with him that even my entire family don’t have that amount of money and he came down to $1 million.”
“After about three days, I was told my bill is no longer $1 million but €1 million euros, that he has gotten more information about me. That night he called again and asked for my brother’s phone number and I gave him.
“They called my brother and were beating me so that he will hear my cry and told me that I should tell him I have agreed to pay €1 million and I told my brother.”
Two days before Good Friday, Mr. Dunu said “the chairman” called again and they were connected in a conference call to his brother.
“My brother told them they have been able to change up to €223,000 and he asked me to tell my brother to make it €250,000 and my brother informed me that it will take additional N11 million to get the remaining €27,000 and that it took them two months to get the €223,000 that it’s not easy to raise such money.”
“My brother asked them to take the €223,000 first and when I come out I will balance him. He got annoyed and told my brother to bring the money himself and let him see how my brother will come back alive, that he will shoot his two legs. That was the last communication between me and my brother.”
When asked by the prosecuting counsel, Titilayo Shitta-Bey, how he managed to escape Mr. Dunu said, “On Easter Monday, I heard them discussing. What drew my attention was when they said ‘we will kill him,’ that they don’t have an alternative.
“I was with them till the next Monday when their chairman came. He drove in and they shut the doors and (put) on the generator but he didn’t stay long. That night they brought indomie and the person who brought it asked me to eat so that I will be able to face them at canal where they kill people. He also told me that killing a human being is not a sin.
“The next day they came into my room and brought a box containing many dangerous weapons and I started begging them that I did not do anything and have already told my brother to give them money that my kids are still small, that my oldest child is 14.”
“The next week somebody said if you want to kill him, kill him, in fact, kill him. Then on Wednesday the person came and asked if they have killed me and they said no that they will kill me Friday night.”
In the early hours of Friday, Mr. Dunu said he got his breakthrough.
“Very early, around 4a.m or so, something touched me that I should pray and I started praying for my family. After praying, as a joke, I took the bedsheet to wrap the padlock on the chain on my leg and pulled and the padlock opened. I said to myself if I stay they will kill me by evening that the God that let the padlock to open will see me out of here.
“One of them was lying on the three-seater and the fan was making noise. When I got to the kitchen door I opened it normally and it opened. When I got to the kitchen I saw a burglar proof and I got discouraged and went back to the room.
“My mind asked me to get up and I did. I went back to the kitchen luckily the wooden kitchen door was not locked but the burglarproof was locked in the middle. I released the upper and lower bolts and the burglarproof opened.”
“I went into the compound. Their gate and fence are bottled but there was something like a ladder on the fence and where the ladder was there was no bottle in a small part. I stepped on the place without bottle and jumped to the next compound.”
While in the next compound, Mr. Dunu said he knocked on someone’s window and explained his predicament.
“He said he doesn’t know me, that I should leave or he will call the police. I told them to call the police. Then NEPA took light and they went back to sleep. My mind told me to hide somewhere till morning and I did. I heard them looking for me where I was hiding.
“In the morning the couple woke up and saw me in their compound and I begged them to take me away in their Honda Accord car but they refused and said the only thing they will do is report to the chairman of their association.
“There are two families living in the compound and a boy of 21-23 came out with a plastic pipe and chased me away saying I was a thief. Very close to their gate was a nursery school and the security guard there pushed me to the ground.”
“I kept telling them where they kept me that if they find me here they will kill me. I was looking lean and blood was on my body because of the injury from the jump last night, it brought attention to me and one man asked me for my wife’s number but it didn’t go through so I gave my cousin’s number, Jude Afurupe.”
Mr. Dunu said the man he gave his cousin’s number to helped him get to Idimu Police Station from where he was taken to the Police Commissioner’s office in Ikeja.
“From there they directed us to the Surulere anti-cultism and robbery squad.
“We went to their hideout and the gate was locked. They broke it and recovered arms and ammunitions.”
Mr. Dunu also repeated his brother’s claim during his own evidence, that Evans asked for his forgiveness when they met at the Police House in Ikoyi.
The trial was adjourned till May 11 for the cross-examination of the prosecution’s second witness and continuation of trial.