Evans, Nigeria’s most dreaded kidnap kingpin on the loose Gang targets 1m euro ransom •Victims spend months in hideout •Why police have failed to arrest him
His name resonates, like an octopus, across criminal circles all over the country. His colleagues in crime hold him with awe and utmost regard because of his exploits. Security agencies in the country dread him.
He is simply Evans which may not be his real name. That is just what he has succeeded in making nosy security operatives believe in. Any other thing about him remains in the realm of conjecture. His operational stratagem and manipulation beat security men with ease. •
The two faces suspected to be Evans’ have continued to terrorize the popular Festac, Amuwo-Odofin and the environs for years.
His victims are vast and they vary. His gang seems to be the most dreaded, crafty and appears to be the most organised criminal outfit in the country so far.
Both the police, operatives of the State Security Service, (SSS), the Army, Air force and Navy have made several efforts to arrest the suspected leader of the gang popularly called Evans, without success.
On the contrary, many members of the gang have been arrested in different bloody operations yet; mum seems to be their watchword over the whereabouts of their leader, Evans.
His modus operandi includes a detailed study of their potential victims, his business concerns, associates, family background (including where his wife works, the school his children attend, and address of his relatives ). He uses both acquaintances and business associates to track down his victims after which he will hit the target. Soon after, he will reel out demands which normally range from a million euro, or dollar.
Most times he insists half of the ransom is paid in foreign currency. He issues strict instructions, advising relatives of victims to avoid dealing with security agencies or risk losing their loved ones.
Ironically, their patience never wanes as they have so far succeeded in keeping their victims safely out of security focus for months and releasing them at will. So far, families of victims have been patiently abiding by their strict instructions and paying heavily in order to safeguard their relations.
In most cases, victim’s life savings and precious investments have been quickly disposed off in order to meet up with their demands occasioned with threats after which they suffer in penury upon release.
Some of the victims who survived the excruciating ordeal normally relocate to either abroad or another city in the country without trace. This is to avoid being made to suffer the same fate, the second time.
While the police and their sister agencies are busy tackling the menace of militants who engage in kidnapping students in and around Ikorodu, Ishawo, Epe and other Creeks, Evans and his gang operate around Festac, Amuwo-Odofin, Ago-Palace areas.
Lately, they have spread their evil dragnet towards Ilupeju, Anthony and Mende areas of the state.
Their targets are wealthy business men and women that reside around those areas. Particularly, they have foot soldiers in and around major markets and trade centres where business thrives more in Lagos.
So far, they have succeeded in beating all the tracking devices used by the police and security agencies to locate them.
Interestingly, they invest heavily on sophisticated tracking equipment, thus making it practically impossible to be tracked down.
Shockingly, investigations revealed that they connive with some workers in communication outfits in perfecting their nefarious activities.
Ironically, these are the same people security agents use in tracking criminals in the country.
The case of a wealthy Ibo man who deals on pharmaceuticals with office in Ilupeju area of Lagos is frightening. He was abducted around his office on February 14, 2017 after he closed for the day around 8pm. Few hours later, his abductors called members of the family demanding 1million euro, failure of which he would be killed.
While under their captivity, they were mounting pressure on members of his family, who managed to raise N50million, to work harder after forcing their victim to disclose all his assets and liabilities both at home and abroad.
They even contacted his foreign business partners with threats to kill him if they failed to meet their demands.
Few days ago, the family of the victim was made to part with N150 million after which they simply called to tell them that it was not even enough to take care of their brother with them.
Incidentally, after the abduction of the Pharmacist and the warning from his kidnappers not to contact the police, members of his family maintained a closely guided secrecy over the case.
Fortunately, based on intelligence report, the Inspector-General of Police Intelligence Response Team, was able to get hint of the case and they put machinery in motion with a view to arresting the dreaded kidnap lord called Evans.
They reportedly trailed a member of the victim’s family to Festac area where he went to pay the ransom. The kidnappers dribbled the family member with the money from 7.30pm till 11pm after which they thought they had cleared all hurdles and took the ransom somewhere around Ago Palace Way.
However, unknown to all the parties, a formidable team of IGP’s Intelligence unit was trailing them. Whatever happened after the ransom was paid and the criminals were allowed to slip into safety remains a puzzle.
Meanwhile, expectations from family members of the victim for his safe return turned into illusion soon after his abductors called to state categorically that the ransom was a chicken feed.
The case of another top Manager in a flourishing Pharmaceutical Company also in Ilupeju seems to be more pathetic. He was abducted few days after the February 14th incident and taken to an unknown destination.
Till date, it was reliably gathered that members of his family may have dispensed with over N300 million yet, his abductors are insisting on 1million euro or nothing.
All efforts, covertly or overtly, made so far by families of these victims to plead for his release have always been met with threats and call for more money.
To worsen their plight, the victim is forced to speak with them while claiming to be under intense pains.
Tales from freed victim listening to survivors from Evans kidnapping gang is like stories told from the one of the world’s most brutal prisons.
Stories of torture and even summary executions were freely re-enacted by the survivors.
One of them, a very wealthy international business man from Anambra State who resides in Festac narrated a very sordid and frightening encounter while playing squash with his friends. He was abducted in front of his palatial home around 21 Avenue after he closed for the day’s job at Trade Fair complex in July, last year.
According to the visibly traumatized victim; “Soon after they struck, I was blindfolded. Surprisingly, I noticed that at every intermittent stop, they chatted freely with people I suspected to be policemen at check points after which they will zoom off.
After what seemed like interminable hours, their vehicle was brought to a screeching halt in a seemingly serene area. I was taken upstairs to a dingy, lonely room where they dumped me on a bed. My hands were tied at the back and they only removed the blindfold when it was time to eat.
My food was just bread, Indomine and tea. They, however, provided my daily hypertensive medication after I told them the drug recommended for me.
That was where all niceties ended. The bullying, threats and physical torture meted to me were unimaginable. At times, they would force me to cry like a baby in order to impress upon my family that I was at the point of death and they should rally round and meet their 1Million euro demand.
Whenever their calls for more money failed, I would be at the receiving end because they would flog me as if I were an animal. The only outside noise that penetrated the room are noise of plane.
From their discussion, I was able to decipher that their boss was given orders from another location. I also noticed that almost all the rooms in the place were occupied by other victims. This is because I use to hear agonising cries of men pleading for leniency especially, when their families could not raise the demanded ransom. I assume that some of them may have given up the ghost later because their painful cries were so persistent and heartrending. I was released after spending four and half months in their den and parting with 1million euro. After I was freed, I could not summon courage to report to the police because I am not sure they will save me if they come again.” Role of police, security agencies Most of the victims lamented that the manner they were abducted and freely taken to their den did not give them courage to repose confidence on the police for safety.
While the police especially, Inspector-General of Police Intelligence Response Team, (IRT), under the indomitable Assistant Commissioner of Police, Kyari, has so far performed creditably well in arresting a reasonable number of kidnappers. It is noteworthy that their successes were recorded after the deed had been done and ransom paid.
Police sources, however, stated categorically that the issue of checking the deadly menace of kidnapping has to do with the provision of sophisticated modern equipment that will be used in tracking them whenever they strike.
They attributed successes recorded so far to the ‘skeletal equipment’ at the disposal of the police. “The IRT is succeeding because they have some sophisticated equipment but you cannot compare it with the one Evans and his gang are using.
There is the great and urgent need for enough money to be pumped into providing world best sophisticated equipment.
By so doing, these kidnappers will find it very difficult to operate. We are not also finding it easy with telecom operators. We have black legs there that assist criminals in perpetrating their nefarious acts and government must check this by thoroughly screening workers in the outfit.
Most importantly, the police and other sister agencies are totally lacking in surveillance and intelligence. These kidnappers keep their helpless victims in their den littered around us.
An efficient surveillance and intelligence work will, no doubt, assist tremendously in rounding them up while they are with their victims and not after ransom had been paid and the victims made to suffer untold hardship.” Evans is easily turning warlord concerning the apparent emergence of what appears to be ultra-sophisticated kidnap gangs, the question Nigerians should be asking is, when will Nigeria’s national security establishment contain or curtail the dangerous dimensions of such kidnap gang? How can a kidnapping outfit be collecting $1 Million ransom from each victim and easily beating police tracking and the government can’t help out? Is the Nigerian national security establishment waiting until this Evans metamorphoses into a “terrorist” warlord attacking the whole country before it wakes to its duty?
Obviously, the gang now has a sophisticated intelligence outfit that identifies prospective targets, complete with financial, banking, assets and personal security information.
They once asked a victim to sell the property he had in a particular area of Lagos and meet their ransom.
The man had paid N50m but the gang asked for more. The dimension of the gang having IT specialists and employing electronic countermeasures to defeat police tracking and tracing of their calls and to monitor movements and contacts of victims’ family members and the police lends an unabashedly frightening coloration to the menace. This clearly is well beyond the capacity of our traditional, orthodox law enforcement to handle.
That the “Evans” kidnap organization could act with complete impunity in Nigeria, keeping victims captive for periods ranging up to six (6) months underlines the reality of the complete helplessness of our traditional law enforcement.
Is it that the National Security Adviser (NSA), DG of SSS, Director of Military Intelligence and NIA(considering the alleged international connections with foreign criminal organizations and foreign residence of this “Evans”) are oblivious of what is happening? Are the Governors of Lagos and Ogun States as powerless as they think?
Not really. They can prevail on the Federal Government to bring its best national security and intelligence assets to bear on the menace thrust on Nigeria by the “Evans” network. The failure of the security operatives to nab Evans appears to be inspiring him to go for bigger fishes. And he appears to be winning the war.