A Lagos-based businessman, Donatus Dunu, who was kidnapped sometime in February 2017, appeared before the Lagos State High Court in Ikeja on Friday to narrate his ordeal in the kidnappers’ den where he spent 88 days.
He also explained how he managed to escape before his captors could make good their threat to take his life.
He appeared in court as a second prosecution witness in the ongoing trial of alleged kidnapping kingpin, Chukwudumeme Onwuamadike, alias Evans, and five members of his gang.
The prosecution gave the names of the gang members as Uche Amadi, Ogechi Uchechukwu, Chilaka Ifeanyi, Okwuchukwu Nwachukwu and Victor Aduba. The six were on August 30, 2017 arraigned on two counts of conspiracy and kidnapping before Justice Hakeem Oshodi. They, however, pleaded not guilty.
Dunu, who is the Chief Executive Officer of Maydon Pharmaceutical Limited, said the death threat by his captors pushed him into a desperate midnight prayer session, following which the chains on his legs broke and he escaped.
The Lagos State Directorate of Public Prosecutions brought him to court on Friday to testify.
Led in evidence by the state’s Director of Public Prosecutions, Ms. Titilayo Shitta-Bey, the witness said, “I closed from work around 7:30pm when an SUV double-crossed me and a man came down from the car and pointed a long gun at me. He dragged me down and pushed me into the booth of their car and covered the booth.”
The businessman said he later found himself in the kidnappers’ den in the Igando area of Lagos, where he was blindfolded.
He said upon establishing contact with his family, the gang demanded a ransom of €1m.
He said in order to pressurise the family to raise the money, the kidnappers kept beating him, saying when his family heard him cry over the phone, they would get the money.
“At a time, they (my family) said they had been able to raise up to N60m which I asked the Chairman to take, and that I would pay the remaining money when released but he said my brother and I were saying rubbish,” Dunu added.
He said seeing that the demanded ransom was not coming quickly, the kidnappers threatened to take his life.
He said, “I overheard one of the kidnappers telling others that the best option was to kill me since my brothers were not acting fast in paying their €1m.
“But after I prayed in the midnight of Thursday, before the Friday they scheduled to kill me, the shackles on my legs, like the one used to chain people with mental illness, and the padlocks, opened up. I found the kidnapper guarding me deep in sleep on a three-seater in the parlour (sic).
“I walked to the kitchen, found the doors open; then to the protector, eased my way through the loose locks; and surprisingly, I found a ladder in the compound that aided my escape into the next compound.
“On the day that I jumped into the next compound, which was also a bungalow like the one in which I was kept, I sustained injuries, apart from looking very unkempt and haggard; so, the couple into whose compound I jumped were scared.
“They threatened to call security in the street or the police. I told them to call the police. When they were about to do that, electricity went off and they abandoned me and went back to sleep. At that time, I realised that the kidnappers had started looking for me. So, I hid somewhere till morning.
“The couple woke up to see me and decided to call the street chairman. But before they could do that, a young man of about 24 years of age flogged and chased me out of the compound. I got to a nursery school around the kidnappers’ den and the corporate guards there still didn’t believe my story. Somehow, another man who listened to my story decided to call my wife and cousin when I gave him their numbers. It was my cousin’s line that connected and they spoke.
“So, the man then believed that I was not a thief. He then took me to Idimu Police Station, from where the Ilupeju Police Station, where my brothers initially logged the complaint of my kidnapping, was contacted.
“From there, we went to the anti-cultism and kidnapping (department) in Surulere and then to the Lagos State Police Commissioner’s office, from where all of us went to the kidnappers’ den.
“Thereafter, I was taken to Police House in Lagos, where I saw Evans and the 2nd defendant.
“Also at Agege Police Station, I saw the 4th defendant known as Congo, who is from my home town. At the meetings, they pleaded that I should forgive them that it was the devil that pushed them.”
The case was adjourned till May 11, 2018 for Dunu to be cross-examined by the defence lawyers.