48-year-old Idemudia Charles a staff of the Nigerian Breweries Plc left his Lagos home on February 11, 2017, for a journey to his home town in Uromi, Edo State. He promised his wife and three children to be back three days later.
Two weeks today since Charles left home, the heavily built dark complexioned man is lying in a morgue in Edo State stone dead! A bullet lodged in his shoulder and fore head by suspected dare- devil kidnappers snuffed life out of him.
It was gathered that late Charles was always fond of travelling to the village to see his aged parents. On arriving Benin city, the Edo State capital that fateful day, he stopped to pick one of his sisters with whom he continued the journey to Ewhohi village in Uromi. But that was never to be, as the ongoing conversation between them was interrupted by sporadic gunshots which rattled motorists plying that route.
Like a Hollywood movie, a vehicle, barricaded the highway, close to Ehor, thereby forcing motorists to stop abruptly. Some gun wielding men then jumped out of the vehicle. While some of them kept shooting, others peeped into vehicles that stopped, until they got to Charles.
Eye witnesses said
“When they got to his car, one of them said yes, this is the man we are looking for.” One of them dragged the driver, a huge dark man, out of the car and took him across the road , into the bush. The gunman who took him was masked while others were not but as he was about to enter the bush, the masked man removed the hood. “Our phones were collected from us by the gunmen. After the operation, some of them entered the vehicle and zoomed off while others went in the same direction with their member who took one of the motorists (Charles) away.
Crime Guard gathered that Charles’ sister related what happened to members of his family who subsequently alerted the Police. A team of policemen who stormed the scene, recovered his vehicle and took it to the station while search for his rescue continued. Same day, the kidnappers contacted Charles’ family, demanding N100 million ransom for his release.
Negotiation according to sources from Ewhohi continued until the kidnappers settled for N5 million. Family sources hinted that “News of the kidnapped was revealed to Charles’ wife by his younger brother.
At first, the kidnappers demanded N100 million for his release, threatening to kill him if we did not make the money available. One of them told us that Charles could afford it, since he was paid N50 million from his place of work. We told them it was not possible, that he was just a supervisor in their security department. The following day (Sunday) they called my brother’s wife and told her to send them recharge card that they have been using theirs for negotiation since his abduction.
She obliged them. We started running around for money. One of our brothers had to travel to Lagos to get some money from Charles’ wife. Call to NB “On Monday, he spoke with us. This time around, he said we should go with one of his friends to meet his boss, one Mr Prosper, at Nigerian Breweries. The kidnappers started negotiating with some staff of Nigerian Breweries. Some staff of the company even paid token into Charles wife’s account. At the end of the day, we realised N500,000. But when we told the kidnappers, they asked if the money was meant for sachet water.”
By Monday the kidnappers called again and said that they were not shifting ground from N5 million. At that point, they gave my brother, Charles the phone. He begged us to rally round and get money for his release that he was not comfortable there. He told us that he had N500,000 in his account which he intended to refund to whoever would loan us , by the time he came back. When they called again, Charles started crying. He said they had shot him in the hand. He begged passionately that we should look for every possible way to raise money for his release. He gave us his pin number and instructed his wife to go and withdraw the N500,000 from his account. As he was talking, he was writhing in pains and we could hear them beating him. I could not stand his groaning at a point, so I switched off the phone,”
By the time donations from NB and those from relatives and friends, including the N500,000 withdrawn from Charles’ account were polled together, the distraught family was able to realise N900,000. Apprehension then set in, when they contacted the kidnappers to inform them of an increase, only to be prevented from speaking with Charles. Rather, they instructed that the money should be paid into Charles sister’s account in Benin, while one of his brothers should leave Lagos for Benin, from where he would withdraw the money and take to a designated point, before their brother would be released.
Crime Guard gathered that Charles’ brother was directed to several points where he was to drop the money without any sight of a receiver from the kidnappers‘ end. At this point, the negotiator became afraid, apparently thinking it could be a plough to kidnap him as well. He was said to have left the isolated place after waiting endlessly. Amidst the anxiety came a call from one of the kidnappers instructing that nobody should call them again in respect of the ransom. A family source who spoke on the condition of anonymity said:
“While our brother was at the designated point, the kidnappers called to ask where he was. But he said he did not know the place. They told him to give the phone to any child around so as to know his location. But he was too scared to do so because he just lost his wife last month.”
Uneasy calm pervaded the Uromi home of Pa Idemudia, following the unusual silence from the kidnappers. A member of the family was said to have called the kidnappers line consecutively, without any response. Sources hinted that
“at this point, his parents were agitated, so also was his wife who kept calling us to get an update. When we told her that the money had not been paid, she started crying and praying for her husband’s safe arrival. Then, we received a call from one of the kidnappers, informing us not to worry about paying the ransom any more. They said that the situation had changed and that we should go and use the money to buy coffin for his burial.”
Their worst nightmare was confirmed last Friday, after news filtered in that the remains of Charles was found along the highway. Anxious family members who went to confirm the claim, came back dejected and forlorn. On closer observation, Crime Guard was informed that Charles was shot on the shoulder and fore head. Family sources hinted that a farmer found the corpse in the forest and alerted policemen.
Efforts to reach Charles’ widow failed as she was said to have travelled with her three children to the village. But police sources at the Edo state Police command, stated that investigation into the kidnap and murder was on. Concerted effort made to get NB’s reaction failed as its Public Relations Officer, Mr Patrick Olowookere stated that he had no detail of the incident.