Monday, 14 September 2015
UPDATED: Sun Newspaper’s Deputy MD’s Wife Kidnapped in Lagos, Demand N100m Ransom
Also, the Lagos State Commissioner of Police, Fatai Owoseni has described the attack as an ‘armed robbery operation.
Owoseni who spoke to newsmen at his office in GRA, Ikeja, Lagos, today said the home of the senior journalist remains an active crime scene since his wife was held hostage.
He said, “Steve Nwosu was a victim of armed robbery attack. The place is still an active crime scene, so we are careful in order not to jeopardize investigation."
For the second time in a forthnight, the media suffered an attack from kidnappers when Mrs. Oluwatoyin Nwosu, the wife of the Deputy Managing Director of The Sun Newspapers, Mr. Steve Nwosu, was in the wee hours of Monday kidnapped by a seven-man armed gang at their Okota residence in Lagos.â€¨Ms. Donu Kogbara, a popular Vanguard columnist was also abducted from her home in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, on August 30. She was released only last weekend.â€¨The heavily armed gang, which stormed Nwosu’s neighbourhood in Gestapo style at about 2 am, robbed the Nwosus of some valuables before abducting their victim and escaping to an unknown destination.â€¨Nwosu and his wife were former editorial staff of THISDAY Newspapers.â€¨THISDAY gathered that three members of the gang had quietly scaled the very high barbed wire fence to gain access to the bungalow, leaving the other heavily armed assailants outside the compound to mount guard.
Having gained access to the compound through the aid of the transformer, the gang faced another obstacle in the form of the strong doors and protectors on the windows.â€¨To gain access into the house, they broke open the window and forcibly yanked and pushed the protector off the wall, until it gave way.â€¨After ransacking and robbing the family of their phones, laptops and other valuables, the gang first blindfolded Nwosu and took him outside with them, but for reasons yet unknown he was brought back and his wife taken in his place.â€¨ Prior to the raid of the Nwosus, the gang had first stormed one of the houses on the street and after scaling the fence to rob the owner, who himself also scaled his own fence into the next compound to escape, landed in his neighbour’s compound and broke his leg.â€¨
Having failed in that residence, they then moved down to Nwosu’s residence and once they gained access, they rounded up his kids who were asleep on the sofa in the sitting room and shepherded them to the toilet where they were locked up.â€¨After the robbery, they ordered the victim (Toyin) to dress up for a “journey” as they all moved to the canal that connects Okota to the 7th Avenue area of FESTAC Town, where they met with other gang members and the speedboat operator.â€¨
THISDAY further gathered that at that point, neighbours had become aware of their presence and tried to rally round, but the assailants shot sporadically into the air to scare them off before they dragged their victim to the speedboat and escaped.â€¨Meanwhile, Nwosu said that when he heard the noise they made as they tried to yank off the protector, he immediately made a phone call to the FESTAC police station, where he was told that it was not their jurisdiction, but that of the Okota police station.
â€¨ He had also tried to call the gateman, who was supposed to be guarding the estate, but his numbers were switched off and as he was about to make further calls, the invaders pounced on him.â€¨Sporting a bruised lip where he was repeatedly punched by the gang, Nwosu, in an interview with THISDAY, said: “They were just asking me where the money was but I told them that we had no money at home.”â€¨On what was going on through his mind during the ordeal, he said: “I said well God if this is the way it’s supposed to be, so be it. God knows that if I had money, I would have given them.â€¨“Robbers have been to my house last year and they were lucky because it happened a few hours after my wife’s birthday. So all the money and gifts people gave her was in the house and they took it. This time around, there was no money in the house but somehow they didn’t believe me.”â€¨Although he did not categorically state the demands and amount made by the gang as ransom he said: “They have been making all kinds of demands, not only monetary demands.â€¨“The case is being handled by the Okota police station.
They got here and took my statement but I haven’t really gone there. They must have been called by neighbours who noticed that we were under siege.”¨While THISDAY was at Nwosu’s residence, the Managing Director of The Sun Newspapers, Mr. Eric Osagie led a senior management team to commiserate with his deputy.â€¨In the entourage were the Chairman, Editorial Board, Mrs. Wale Sokunbi, the General Manager Operations, Mr. Demola Lajumoke, and the Sunday Editor, Alhaji Abdulfata Oladeinde. â€¨Speaking to THISDAY, Osagie said: “Journalists are not wealthy people that you need to abduct them or their spouses. We are appealing to their conscience to release her alive.â€¨“How can you just explain that this lovely woman would just be abducted from her family? We appeal to them to please release her safely.”â€¨In the same vein, although nothing was heard from the abductors hours after the kidnapping, it was gathered that they finally contacted the family and demanded the sum of N100 million as ransom.â€¨A senior police officer who spoke to THISDAY on condition of anonymity, said: “Hours after she was kidnapped, the gang called to make their demands known.“They demanded for the sum of N100 million as ransom but they have allowed him to speak with his wife.
She was quite fine then.”â€¨ Also, the state Commissioner of Police, Fatai Owoseni, said all the machinery of the police command had been deployed to find and rescue her alive and arrest the masterminds behind the abduction.â€¨Reacting to the incident, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) yesterday expressed shock over the abduction of Mrs. Nwosu.â€¨In a statement issued by the PDP National Publicity Secretary, Chief Olisa Metuh, the party said it was deeply saddened by the news of the abduction and described it as a devilish and barbaric act.â€¨The PDP said it was deeply worried by the recent spate of abductions in the country, adding that the perpetrators cannot justify their actions under any guise whatsoever.
The party said its thoughts and prayers were for the safe return of Mrs. Nwosu and other victims of this social vice. It also expressed confidence that the security forces would track down the abductors and expose those behind the crime.¨The party also declared its support for policies undertaken by the administration to stem the scourge of kidnapping and other criminal activities.â€¨“We stand together with the government against all enemies perpetrating criminal acts against lives and property in our dear nation,” the party said.â€¨Also, the Lagos State Council of the Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ) strongly condemned the abduction of Mrs. Nwosu, and called for her immediate and unconditional release.
â€¨The council, in a statement by its chairman, Deji Elumoye and Secretary, Bimbo Oyetunde, wondered why journalists had suddenly become the target of kidnappers, recalling that it was just last weekend when Ms. Kogbara was released by her abductors in Port Harcourt after spending almost two weeks in captivity.â€¨“We condemn this dastardly act and we appeal to the kidnappers to please free harmless Mrs. Nwosu immediately and unconditionally,” NUJ said.â€¨Lagos NUJ also called on the Inspector General of Police, Mr. Solomon Arase and his team to live up to their billings by securing the lives of the citizenry while appealing to the Lagos State Government not to relent in its effort at ensuring the safety of residents and their properties.â€¨Recalling that a number of journalists had been kidnapped in the past, the statement said the rate was becoming alarming, wondering why journalists who go about their lawful duties were now the target of criminals.â€¨“Journalists have become endangered species in this country.
We are now being targeted for abduction. One wonders why the kidnappers are doing this.¨“We recall the kidnap in 2010 of the immediate past Chairman of Lagos NUJ, Alhaji Wahab Oba, two former secretaries of the Lagos NUJ, the late Adolphus Okonkwo and Sylva Okereke, and Shola Oyeyipo of THISDAY Newspapers while on their way back to Lagos from Akwa Ibom State.â€¨“We urge the Nigeria Police to live up to expectations and we also seek the cooperation of the state government in rescuing Mrs. Nwosu", the statement further said.