An Iperu-Remo based herbalist, Awokoya Ishau, confessed on Monday that he specialised in preparing charms for kidnappers in Lagos and Ogun States. Ishau was arrested by operatives of the Lagos State Anti-Kidnapping squad following the abduction of two Filipinos – Jamie Larcar and Mario Maglundo.
The victims, who work with Mateco Industry West Africa Limited, were detained for nine days and only released after the gang collected N4million ransom. Ishau, who was paraded alongside Ogunjobi Seun alias Apa and Yinka Adebanjo aka Esho, said the gang paid him N200,000 for the charms and for housing the victims.
According to him, the gang was responsible for the abduction of three Indians, who were released after N10million ransom was paid.
He said: “It was Yinka who introduced me to the gang. He first came to me for some protective charms. That was two months ago. He said he often travelled with his boss on distant journeys and he needed some protection. I made some charms for him.
“He came back few weeks later with other members of his gang. I also made some charms for them. We became friends. One day Yinka called to say that he was coming to my place with his gang and two visitors. Initially, I never knew that the two persons he claimed to be their visitors were kidnapped. I got to know this on July 5, when the gang arrived my house with two Filipinos.
“On the July 9, the gang came back with a bag containing some money. I don’t know the actual amount but they gave me N200,000.” Asked how he was arrested, Ishau said Yinka led policemen to his residence, lamenting that the financial benefits lured him into the act. Adebanjo, who was the company’s driver, said he provided information that led to the expatriates’ abduction.
He said: “I am a driver in a construction company where the Filipinos work. I was attached to them by the company’s management. By virtue of the fact that I drive them around, I knew their movement. I provided the gang with information they used to pick them. I got N400,000 as my share of the N4million ransom.”
Parading the suspects, state Police Commissioner, Fatai Owoseni, said they were also members of a ritualists’ gang.
He said they pretended to be members of a vigilante group who were on the look -out for Badoo members at Ikorodu before they kidnapped the foreigners.
Owoseni said: “They ordered the driver who is also their member to come down from the car. They asked him to open the booth of the vehicle. While the driver pretended as if he was checking the booth of the car, another member of the gang took over the driver’s seat and zoomed off with the Filipinos still inside.
“They took the victims to the house of the herbalist in Iperu, where they were kept for nine days. The victims were released on August 4, after collecting the sum of N4million as ransom. While they held onto the victims, the suspects removed their sim cards from their phones and replaced it.”
“Detectives from the Anti-Kidnapping Unit of the command were able to track them to their different hideouts from where they were arrested. Charms, locally made pistol and a wooden box were recovered from the suspects.”