GUO Motors boss kidnappers nearly forced him to join in bank robbery –
ONITSHA — The Chairman of G. U. O. Motors Limited, Chief Godwin Ubaka Okeke, yesterday, told an Onitsha High Court in Anambra State, presided over by Justice Chudi Nwankwo, that his kidnappers nearly forced him to join them in a bloody bank robbery operation which they carried out while he was still their hostage.
This came a day after they kidnapped him for ransom in Onitsha on Sunday, August 23, 2009.
At a resumed hearing of his evidence-in-chief, yesterday, Okeke who said he was later released on Monday evening between 7 and 8 p.m, a day after his abduction, gave a blow-by-blow account of his encounter with them in their various camps.
Okeke told the court: “Few hours after my breadfruit meal with them on that fateful Sunday afternoon at a bungalow between Adazi-Enu and Neni, when I offered them N1 billion, as against N100 million they demanded, which made them to have a special joy and went into a relaxed mood, I now settled down for serious negotiation with them.
The CBN directive
“I reminded them of the newly introduced CBN policy which stated that all those who were heavily indebted to various commercial banks in the country would have their names published in the national dailies and at the same time, have their accounts in the banks frozen.
“I told them that it was left for them to accept whatever amount my wife could mop up before the bank could freeze all my accounts in the bank since I was actually heavily indebted to many banks in the country.
“I specifically told them that my wife could mobilise at least something in the neighbourhood of N30 million for now.
“On hearing me mention something like N30 million only, the second defendant, Anthony Ifeanyi Okafor, became furious at once and hammered an enlarged photograph on my head. Not satisfied with that, Okafor picked up a machete and pierced my left hand and blood started gushing out and I used his handkerchief to tie the wounded hand, just like I used my shirt to tie my bullet wounded leg.
“At that point, a woman carrying a child on her back entered the compound to visit the owners, but her entry rattled them so much so that they wanted to grip her but she managed to wriggle herself out of the compound and in an attempt to track her down, Okafor’s gun dropped on the ground and started firing by itself.
“Following the bangs from the firing gun, the gang leader blamed Okafor for his carelessness and at once, all of them hurriedly packed their weapons into their vehicles and left the compound for another, somewhere in Adazi-Nnukwu.
“They remained there for few hours and left again for Ozubulu in Ekwusigo Local Government Area of the state, driving through Nnobi/Nnewi road where they snatched at least three vehicles. On getting to Ozubulu at about 10 p.m, I requested them to allow me time to sleep and they did and I dozed off.
“About 1 a.m, on Monday, they woke me up, drove off again and landed at a very big farmland at Amenyi, Awka around 4 a.m. At about noon, I requested them to give me lunch and my blood pressure, BP, drugs to take.
“They asked me what I would like to eat for lunch and what type of drug and I told them fried rice and chicken and Venox drug for my BP. They quickly arranged for the food and drug which I took.
They nearly involved me in bank robbery
“After that, the kidnappers, numbering up to 16, gathered, brought out a liquid substance mixed up with roots, herbs and native hot drink which I suspected to be protective charm (Odieshi) and started taking shots one after the other and I asked them to give me and they asked whether I knew what the substance was all about and I replied yes and they gave me and I also drank.
“While they were taking the substance, they were discussing how to carry out a bank robbery operation at Awka that same afternoon. They told me that with the Odieshi, I could join them for the operation but I told them that if the police and soldiers happened to confront them, I would join the police and army in disarming them and their leader now directed that I should be left out of it.”
Ransom payment and release
On how ransom was paid and his eventual release, Okeke said: “They squeezed me inside one of the vehicles with four of them, while the rest took off for the bank robbery. The four of them with me were patrolling around Agulu/Nibo/Nise road inside the vehicle.
“While on patrol, they were establishing contact with my family members over the ransom and at the same time establishing contact with those on bank robbery, until they now told my family where to drop the ransom. They even gave me phone to listen to the blasts at the bank premises during the operation and I actually heard the heavy sound of weapons.
“Before my family members arrived the designated venue which was close to Neni police station to drop the ransom, some of their members who went for the bank robbery operation had returned. When eventually my family members arrived with the ransom at about 7 p.m., they shoved off my driver from the wheel and collected the money, my Toyota SUV with which the ransom was brought and zoomed off, telling me and my driver to go home with one of the vehicles they snatched from someone else.
“As they left with my SUV and the ransom, they forgot one of their rocket launchers inside the snatched vehicle and I decided to drive straight to Neni police station to make an entry. Policemen actually admitted hearing the sounds of the guns but pleaded that they don’t have enough manpower and matching sophisticated weapons to confront the kidnappers.
“I now pleaded with the policemen to escort me home which they did by driving me and my driver to my residence at Onitsha with the snatched vehicle while they took the vehicle and the rocket launcher back to the police station.”