For over five years, he has remained the prime target of the Police. But the more they hunthim, the more elusive he becomes or so it seems. Welcome to the world of Evans, ostensibly Nigeria’s most wanted kidnapper who raked in over N2 billion from payment of ransom for his wealthy victims last year alone. His list of victims is endless.One of them is Sir James Uzochukwu Uduji, the Chairman of Comet Star Manufacturing Company, who spent six weeks in captivity before met the gang’s ransom demand.
Udoji was abducted by unknown gunmen in front of his residence at 7th Avenue, Festac Town, Lagos on September 7, 2015. He was released after six weeks in captivity. His abductors were said to have laid ambush for him at 72nd Junction along 7th Avenue at a bad portion of the road, close to his residence. The hoodlums shot the driver and drove off with Uduji to an unknown destination.Though he vehemently refused to mention the amount that was paid to his captors, he however, maintained that “their demands were met.” He gave this piece of advice to anybody who falls victim of kidnapping to cooperate with their abductors instead of risking their precious lives which cannot be bought with money.
Uduji’s abduction went viral when the amount requested as ransom became knowledge of the media. His abductors had requested for $1million US dollars which naira value was put at N220 million as at the time he was being held.
Findings revealed that the police authority is aware of the brain behind the repeated, well co-ordinated kidnapping cases in Festac and Amuwo Odofin that became common in 2015.
His name is Evans, one of the richest men in Nigeria but at the moment, the most wanted kidnapper in the country. His criminal outreach and operational methods have so far dwarfed security agencies. In the police circle, as soon as news of high profile kidnap in Lagos is reported, they would simply scream “Evans, Oh Evans.”
An indigene of Anambra State, Evans as he is known by his associates became more involved in criminality, shortly after he was released from prison in 2011.
Some of his colleagues who were arrested by the Police, recalled the moments they shared with him while he was in Anambra prison. According to them, he was always exchanging notes with other inmates on how they were arrested while he plotted his return.Severally, he had relocated to Ghana when Anambra, his home state became too hot for him to operate. Government and the Police in Anambra State were said to have launched a manhunt for him and one of his colleagues, known as Hutch-man, when their activities became too unbearable. Their buildings were destroyed and their relatives were ostracised in the society.
He made contacts and as soon as he was granted bail, Evans jumped bail and joined a gang in Anambra. He grew in ranks, and made a lot of money until he was able to form his own gang. He widened his reach between Lagos and Anambra States and at the end of each operation, travel to Ghana till the Police stops searching for him.
While in Ghana, Evans and Hutch-man formed a new gang in Lagos with three others. Their modus operandi was to sneek into the country quietly, carry out some kidnappings and disappear into thin air.
No one noticed his activities until in 2013 after a prominent transporter, Chief Vincent Obianodo, the Chief Executive Officer, CEO, of The Young Shall Grow Motors narrowly escaped death when his convoy was attacked by some gunmen in Festac Town. The police arrested some suspects who revealed the motive behind the attack.
At the moment, no one knows Evans’ whereabouts because he has plenty of cash and can easily move in and out of the country. He is so smart that none of his gang members that were arrested has information about him except that his name is Evans and they refer to him as ‘my lord’ while they are not allowed to know much about him.
One of Evans gang members who knew little about him was Chukwuma Kingsley, 34, a native of Isele-Ukwu in Delta State. Kingsley was arrested in connection with the kidnap of two oil moguls in Lagos state.
During his confession at the police station, Kingsley claimed that he knew Evans as a dangerous criminal.
“We once lived in the same building many years ago and he was a notorious drug baron. At a time, we forced our landlord to evict him from our building because we were scared he could get us into trouble. There was a time he told me that he was going to leave the country to avoid being arrested by the police. But few months later, I learnt he was arrested for truck diversion and taken to prison.Endless list of victims
‘’I was still doing my taxi job and making little money from it. Suddenly, I received a call from Evans. I was surprised he had my phone number and he asked if I had a car, I told him I didn’t and he asked if I could get someone I trusted who could do a job for him, I said yes. My friend Ike was in the country then and he was driving a Toyota Sienna space bus. I took him to Evans and we met at Festac Town.
“He told us to trail a car for him and he would pay us N3 million. We agreed and he said we should wait for his call. Two weeks later, he called and said we should drive down to Trade Fair Complex, wait under the bridge and look out for a car. He gave us the registration number and colour of the car. He also gave our numbers to somebody who would call and tell us when our target would leave his shop.
“We parted ways with him, because after the deal, he collected N15million and only gave us N3million. Ike got angry because that wasn’t the agreement. He told me that Evans collected N15million as ransom. He is a graduate and very smart,” Kingsley revealed.
Saturday Sun investigation revealed that Evans and his gang still have in their custody, three prominent Nigerians abducted from Amuwo Odofin and Festac area.
Elias Unachukwu was kidnapped in November 2015. Although the family had paid $1million, he is yet to be released as his abductors are insisting on another $1million claiming that family members were rude to them during negotiation.
The second person, Ojukwu Cosmas, 45, who sells Toyota parts at Aspanda trade fair market, Ojo area, was abducted on January 21, 2016 at Festac Town.
The latest was Fidel Umeh, an auto spare parts dealer at Aspanda market who was kidnapped January 28, 2016 at Amuwo Odofin and his family is still negotiating with his abductors.
While the three are still in their abductors den, Evans and his group have successfully ripped off several families in Festac town including James Udoji, a successful industrialist who reportedly parted with $1million to regain his freedom. Shortly after he was released in September, 2015, Chief Raymond Okoye was picked up and was said to have paid $1million to his captors after spending two months with them. Another victim was Uche Okoroafor, a trader at Alaba market who also parted with $1million to regain his freedom after spending three months in captivity.
One of the friends of Okorofar who spoke with Saturday Sun at his residence lamented that he had to relocate from Festac to Lekki.
“This is no longer a joke. The police are no longer interested in what happens in Festac Town or Amuwo Odofin. It is now reserved for the average citizen and criminals. Nobody knows who will be the next target. For now, Lekki or Ikeja is safe because that crook and his group know that houses in Lekki and Ikeja are well protected. They will not risk showing their faces here and most importantly, this is the area where important people live and I know that if such a gang dares this area, the police will do everything to arrest them.Another resident who owns a four star hotel in Festac said that he had since relocated out of the country.
“Can’t you remember that Godogodo was arrested because he attacked them? In 2015 alone, not less than 20 prominent men were kidnapped in Festac Town. Properties are very cheap in Festac now because no rich man wants to buy property there again”, he said.
“Three of my regular customers were picked up in front of my hotel while they were leaving. One of them spent two months in their net and had to auction his properties just to raise $1million ransom. It means that their informant normally visits the hotel. I am not safe there, so I run my business from the US”, he said.A police source disclosed that “in 2015 alone, it is estimated that Evans and his gang made nothing less than N2 billion from ransom payments. That is why he has so much money to work with.”
On Evans’ nefarious activities, it was gathered that as far back as 2014, the Lagos command had been on his trail after members of his gang were arrested. He was said to have fled to South Africa with his wife and children.He resurfaced again in March 2015 and this time around, concentrated his effort on Festac Town which has as its landlords, most successful businessmen from the eastern part of Nigeria. Gradually, rich men were silently picked up and Festac town gradually degenerated into an easy route for Evans and his gang.
Saturday Sun learnt that the Commissioner of Police, Fatai Owoseni had since called for help to curb the activities of Evans and his notorious gang. As a result, the Inspector General of Police, Solomon Arase has deployed well-trained detectives to help find Evans and his formidable gang