By Dayo Johnson & Jimitota Onoyume
AKURE — Former Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Chief Olu Falae, who was kidnapped by Fulani herdsmen on his 77th birthday and released after paying N5m ransom four days after, has identified his abductors who were paraded before him by the police. Falae on Tuesday, identified three of the suspects as those who kidnapped him and threatened to kill him if he failed to pay the ransom. Chief Falae, according to a police source, also identified one of the kidnappers who was kind to him.
Five of Falae’s kidnappers were arraigned, yesterday, before an Akure High Court, Ondo and Chief Falae will be a star witness when the trial commences November 10.
The suspects, who were docked for kidnapping, conspiracy and armed robbery 24 days after abduction were Abubakar Auta, Bello Jannu, Umaru Ibrahim, Masahudu Muhammed and Idris Lawal.
Three of the kidnappers admitted that their share from the N5m ransom collected was N100,000 each. The accused persons could not speak English and were ordered to be remanded in prison custody by the high court judge, Justice Rotimi Olamide till November 10 when the case would be heard.
The service of an interpreter, Bassey Victor who is a security operative was sought by the court.
Another leader of the gang, Abubakar Auta was also arrested in Niger State with N823,900 cash, part of the ransom money by Police Special Intelligence Response team put up by the Inspector-General of Police.
The cash with the wrappers of a commercial bank in Akure, the Ondo State capital paid as ransom for the release of the former Finance Minister was discovered in the booth of the vehicle being driven by the suspect before his arrest.
The accused person, who spoke with newsmen before his arraignment, confessed that they kidnapped the septuagenarian politician.
They were arraigned on a five-count charge of procuring or counseling another for the purpose of kidnapping and abducting, aiding and abetting, contrary to Section 2 of Anti-kidnapping and Anti-Abduction Law of Ondo State, 2010.
However, when the charge was read to the suspects in court, they all pleaded not guilty.
The charge reads: “That you, Abubakar Auta, Bello Jannu, Umaru Ibarahim, Masahudu Muhammed, Idris Lawal and others now at large, on or about Monday, September 21, 2015 at Kajola/Eyinala Community in Akure Judicial Division did give information for the purpose of kidnapping and abducting Chief Samuel Oluyemi Falae.
“Abubakar Auta, Bello Jannu, Umaru Ibarahim, Masahudu Muhammed and Idris Lawal, and others now at large, on or about Monday, September 21, 2015 at Kajola/Eyinala Community in Akure Judicial Division did aid the kidnapping and abduction of Chief Samuel Oluyemi Falae.
“Abubakar Auta, Bello Jannu, Umaru Ibarahim, Masahudu Muhammed and Idris Lawal, and others now at large, on or about Monday, September 21, 2015 at Kajola/Eyinala Community in Akure Judicial Division did Kidnapped Chief Oluyemi Falae, the Former Secretary to the Government of the Federation and did not release him until N5,000,000 ransom was paid.
“Abubakar Auta, Bello Jannu, Umaru Ibarahim, Masahudu Muhammed and Idris Lawal, and others now at large, on or about Monday, September 21, 2015 at Kajola/Eyinala Community in Akure Judicial Division did conspire to commit a felony to wit armed robbery.
“Abubakar Auta, Bello Jannu, Umaru Ibarahim, Masahudu Muhammed and Idris Lawal, and others now at large, on or about Monday, September 21, 2015 at Kajola/Eyinala Community in Akure Judicial Division did rob Chief Olu Falae of N15, 000 and his handset while armed with guns, cutlasses and other dangerous weapons”.
The offence, according to the prosecution, is contrary to Section 2 of Anti-Kidnapping and Anti-Abduction Law, 5(1)(a) of the Anti-Kidnapping and Anti-Abduction Laws, Section3(11)(b) of the Anti-Kidnapping and Abduction Law, Section 6(b) of the Robbery and Firearms(Special Provision) Act,Cap R11, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004 and Section 1(2)(a) of the Robbery and Firearms (Special Provisions) Act,Cap R11, Vol. 14, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004.
Vanguard was informed by a top police source that Abubakar Auta was arrested in Niger State; Idris Lawan, Masahudu Muhammed and Bello Jannu were arrested in Ekiti, while Umar Ibrahim was picked up in Ondo State.
Two other suspects, Usman Kato and Babawuro are already in the custody of the Directorate of State Service,DSS. Babawuro was arrested in Lokoja, while two other members of the kidnap gang are still on the run.
Exhibits recovered from the gang leader Abubakar Auta include cash of N823,990:00, 12 SIM cards, a phone used for negotiating the ransom of Chief Falae and a Red Bajaj Motorcycle with Reg No; KER 385 QA which was used to convey Chief Olu Falae to their camp when he got tired of walking in the bush.
During interview, Umaru Ibrahim said they have a boss called Baba Uro who they have not met but who sent the N100,000 to them after the ransom was paid by Chief Falae’s family.
He said that their boss lives in Abuja and that he has only spoken with him once.
Ibrahim told newsmen that he paid a debt of N60,000 from his own share of the ransom.
Also, Idris Lawal confirmed that he received N100,000. He said that they spent five days in the bush and that they are eight in number. He confessed that he hails from Katsina State and he is a herdsman.
The fourth suspect, Masahudu Muhammed declined to tell newsmen how much his share of the ransom was.
It will be recalled that Chief Falae was abducted by Fulani herdsmen on Monday, September 21, 2015, the day he clocked 77 at his farm in Ilado, Akure North council area of Ondo State.
He was released four days later.
Police recover N137m from fleeing robbers in Rivers
A statement released Wednesday night by the Police Public Relations Officer in Rivers State, DSP Ahmad Muhammad said the Police got a distress call at about 5.12pm on Wednesday that robbers were operating at the bank, and they immediately mobilised to the scene.
He said before the Police got to the bank, the robbers had driven out but they pursued and caught up with them.
DSP Muhammad said during an exchange of fire, two policemen sustained bullet wounds, adding that they were responding to treatment at an undisclosed hospital in Port Harcourt.
Continuing, he said among items recovered from the robbers were N137 million, one AK-47 rifle, a rocket, a pistol and six magazines.
He said the items were found in a vehicle abandoned by the fleeing robbers who could not stand the fire power of the police.
He said: “At about 5.15 pm, we received a distress call that some criminals robbed a new generation bank at Trans Amadi, Port Harcourt. Instant action and hot chase by our men forced the armed robbers to abandon their operational vehicle, a Lexus SUV and escaped with gunshot wounds. Items recovered from the vehicles include the stolen money to the tune of N137m, one AK-47rifle, rocket, an English-made pistol and six magazines”.
The fleeing robbers, according to the Police, also abandoned another Lexus SUV at Rukpokwu area of the state capital.
The Police PRO said the Police will not sleep until those behind the robbery were brought to book.