Tuesday, 23 July 2013
I didn’t kidnap Briton but collected ransom – Suspect
The Lagos State Police Command on Monday paraded a 27-year-old man, Chukwuemeka Benson, for the alleged kidnap of a British expatriate, Dickson Lee.
The PUNCH had reported that Lee, who was kidnapped in Mafoluku area of the state on his way from the Murtala Muhammed International Airport last Thursday, had been rescued by the police on Sunday.
It was learnt that after kidnapping the victim, the kidnappers demanded $1m (N159m) as ransom. However, police detectives working undercover were able to negotiate N7.5m with the kidnappers.
It was learnt that the suspect was arrested while he was attempting to collect the ransom.
The Commissioner of Police, Mr. Umar Manko, said the suspect was arrested along Lagos-Badagry Expressway.
Manko said after his arrest, Benson led detectives to an uncompleted building in Okota area of the state where the victim was found.
He said, “Benson came to collect ransom around Okokomaiko on Lagos-Badagry Expressway, when he was arrested by policemen of the Special Intelligence Bureau and the Special Anti-Robbery Squad. One of his colleagues, who came with him, was shot during the operation, but he escaped with bullet wounds.
“Benson led policemen to an uncompleted building at Okota where Dickson (Lee) was rescued without paying ransom and without any injury. Efforts are on to arrest the remaining suspects at large.
“I urge people who have genuine business in Lagos State not to be afraid as the state remains the safest part of the country. People should also desist from paying ransom as this encourages kidnapping.”
It was learnt that at the uncompleted building, a locally-made revolver pistol with seven rounds of live ammunition and two AK47 rifle magazines were recovered.
The suspect however denied being a kidnapper. He said he was only used by the kidnappers at large to collect the ransom.
The indigene of Abia State said, “I sell second hand clothes for a living. However, some months ago, my goods worth over N200, 000 were seized by men of the Nigerian Customs Service at Agbara, Ogun State.
“I returned to my hometown to hustle but things were very hard. I have younger female cousins, who are all widows so I had to become the head of the extended family and decided to become rich by all means.”
He said he went to borrow money from a friend he identified only as Nonye, adding that the friend, who was the security guard at the uncompleted building, promised to loan him N150, 000 if he would collect money from someone on his behalf.
He said he innocently went to collect the money when he was arrested by the police.
He said, “On Friday, I went to see Nonye at the uncompleted building and he told me that he would loan me N150,000 which I could use as capital. I noticed a white man (Lee) sitting in one of the rooms. I asked Nonye who the man was, but he told me to mind my business. The white man was given juice and cake to eat.
“On Sunday, around 2pm, Nonye told me to go with his friend, Ugo, and collect money from the owner of the building. He said the money was for construction of the house but he did not tell me how much. I went with Ugo on a motorcycle and Ugo told me to go collect money from the owner of the building, sitting inside a car.
“When I attempted to collect the money, I was immediately arrested. I did not know I was being used.”