His reputation precedes him far more than any word could ever muster. Although no longer in his elements, the man more feared for his tenacity while negotiating for ransom than the usual violent streak for which kidnappers are known, Evans incredible life of crime has captivated Nigerians. ADEDAYO ODULAJA, who spent over five hours with him days ago, tells his sordid story
He was christened Chukwumeme Onwuamadike but chose the pseudonym Evans, which later relegated his real name to the background. Although he claimed that he adopted the name while in secondary school, the alias later became a ploy to cover his tracks as a notorious kidnapper, who also had a dangerous voyage into the deadly world of armed robbery and drug trafficking. Evans was as sly as a fox and as a dangerous as the foamy race of ocean surge.
Yet, he patronised a native doctor who assured him that just like a mirage, the police could only arrest him in their imagination. These unholy combinations, perhaps, explain why he evaded arrest for five years before he met his Waterloo last week Saturday at his Magodo mansion in Lagos in an operation led by the super cop, ACP Abba Kyari, and his daring Inspector General of Police Intelligence Response Team.
Since then, he has remained a topic of discussion and his infamous acts have continued to intrigue Nigerians. The 36-year-old native of Nnewi, Anambra State, was paraded with much fanfare by the Force Public Relations Officer, CSP Jimoh Moshood, at the Lagos State Police Headquarters, Ikeja last Sunday.
According to police sources, he was declared wanted by the police as far back as 2013 following some high profile kidnappings that fetched him and members of his gang billions of Naira collected from the families of victims in form of ransom. Sitting with our correspondent for a chat lasting about five hours, Evans looked forlorn. His countenance fell just like Cain’s when God rejected his sacrifice.
This was in clear contrast to the fearful image his name invoked across the country and beyond when he held so much sway in his vast crime empire spread across the country. He unearthed the entirety of his crime-ridden existence – defying the odds while peddling drugs, being involved in robbery and kidnapping in some of the major cities of Nigeria and South Africa along with spending time, however brief, in Ghana. Evans also disclosed that he started fending for himself early in life after he was disowned by his father over an allegation of stealing.
His drug business in South Africa
“I was working as an apprentice with my father before he moved me onto a rich trader who later accused me of stealing his money. When my father asked, I denied stealing the money but he did not believe me. He did not just send me away in the end but said he had disowned me.
That was the beginning of living on my own and fending for myself,” he said. For Evans, the path of crime opened up around 2006 and 2007 when he relocated to South Africa upon losing N20million worth of goods which he said were seized by men of the Nigeria Customs Service. Kidnapping, however, was to appeal to him three years later.
He said: “I went to South Africa from Lagos, I went around 2006 or 2007 but you can check my passport. While in South Africa, I was into drug business. I wanted to move the drugs to Nigeria but I couldn’t get the channel and distribution network needed. Before then, I was selling fairly used spare parts in Ladipo, Mushin, Lagos and it was from there that I linked up with the gang with which I went for my first robbery operation although I did not do any robbery there.
I was just selling fairly used spare parts but I made contacts with gang members later on but I was able to raise enough money from selling parts there, some of which I used to relocate to SA.” Evans, who dropped out of secondary school, said he had always dreamt of making money, hence the decision to venture into business when he arrived in Lagos as a boy.
A combination of the desire to make more money and face less stress coupled with a situation that almost turned fatal led to his return to Nigeria from the rainbow nation.
“I came back the same year so I spent only one year there. I had to come back because of an issue, the issue was that most South Africans like to collect drugs without paying money so I wanted to drag the drug from one man and he brought out his gun and shot me.
Following the shooting incident, I was treated in Cape Town at the Life Claremont Hospital and once I was well again, I came back to Nigeria not long after. It was on my own; not that I was deported.” With the South Africa chapter closed, he relocated to Nigeria and made a vow that he would make it in in his country of birth either by crook of by hooks. “When I came back into the country, there were two boys: Kingsley and Ehis.
I had been in touch with both of them all along and we met and they introduced me to robbery. I met Kingsley when he came back from Libya while I met Ehis in Lagos, somewhere around Ikorodu.
“I really don’t remember how I linked up with Ehis; all I know is that it was through a phone call. To proceed with the robbery plan, I hooked up with Ehis and his boys and the first job Ehis and I did regarding kidnapping was in Edo State,” he said. How three bullion van robberies fetched his gang N400million Speaking about his robbery escapades, most of which were mainly targeted at bullion vans, Evans continued:
“I was introduced to it by a guy named ‘Too Much Money.’ The first bullion van job was in Port Harcourt, somewhere around Aba Road. We made about N70 million from the job but I don’t remember the particular year this happened.
“Usually, the process for a bullion job is always long; a lot of planning goes into it. We usually seize a truck and use it to jam the bullion van and it would lose control and then we use tear gas on the policemen and force the driver to open the back of the van to gain access to the money. So, we hijacked a truck and used the same process I just explained. We usually have sources who would keep us informed about how the cash is being moved.
Those that were working for ‘Too Much Money’ told us all we needed to know to hijack the bullion van and about 26 of us went for the operation. I was in charge of driving one of the three vehicles we used for the job and I got just around N1.5 million from the job. “After the Port Harcourt bullion van job, I met a man named ND and it took sometime before we went for another job.
Before that, we were still talking on the phone but I think it was after two or three weeks after the end of the Port Harcourt business.” It was observed that he saw all the crimes he committed as business ventures.
He never for once used the term, “robbery operation” for any of the three bullion van heists, neither did he refer to any of his kidnap-for-ransom as crime. Rather, he chose the euphemism ‘jobs’ for his kidnapping operations. As it happened in the first operations, he said he was a driver in the second bullion van operation in Enugu.
“I was in Enugu, lodged in a hotel before the job and which was paid for by ND. The job took place on the outskirt of Enugu and we made use of jazz to beat security. We made over N200miilion from the job but the unfortunate part of it was that ND didn’t give us any money. After the operation, he said all of us should go but he gave some money to his own gang members but he also gave me small money, about N300, 000. When he promised to kill the over 20 other members who took part in the job, we all left him.”
Upon hooking up with another leader of a robbery gang named Obele in the Edo-Delta state axis, Evans said he participated in yet another bullion van robbery which fetched them over N100 million. “The next bullion van job was in Umuahia in Abia State and it was led by Obele.
This happened in 2010 and we went to Old Umuahia Road to carry out the operation. There was someone inside the bank that was monitoring the van for us to know when to strike. Like other times, many of us took part in the operation, we took three vehicles and I was given about N7 million from that job.” A simple addition of the total money Evans and the gangs he joined for the three bullion van robberies puts it at around N400million.
From the N7.5 million or so he got from the third bullion van robbery, he bought a car, Honda Car popularly known as ‘Baby Boy’ and also opened a shop at ASPAMDA at the Trade Fair Complex. Trading in fuel and car accessories, he said he invested N6.2 million into the shop.
He also rented a flat at Marwa Road in Satellite Town and brought his wife to Lagos but his life out of crime was not going to last. Shifting a bit to the side that has to do with his personal life, Evans said he was married already by the time he went for the bullion van robberies.
His marital life
“I was already married during this time, the name of my wife is Precious, I met her in Nwagwu in Nnewi. So looking back now, it means I must have been married for over 11 years and my first child is over 10-year-old. Once I met my wife, we didn’t date for too long like that.
I dated her for just about six months and married her. She was in SS3 when I met her and she was preparing to sit her WAEC examination but once she got pregnant for me she had to stop anything that has to do with schooling and I went to pay something on her head (dowry).
It’s a lie that I have other wives, I have only one wife.” When asked if his wife knows about his life of crime, he simply said: “I didn’t want my wife to know and I have been very careful to hide my identity as Evans from her and my children up till the time of my arrest.
But now that I am in police custody and everything is out in the open, I don’t even have any knowledge on their whereabouts.” Asked if anyone else knows about his heavy involvement in kidnapping, drug trafficking and robbery, he said maybe only his mother.
“The other person I can talk about who knows about it is my mother. But I have not seen her for a long time, she is suffering from stroke.” So with all the money at his disposal and the love he said he had for her, why hasn’t he flown her out of the country yet? His direct answer was simply: “She is not interested.”
Paraded alongside six members of his gang including Uchechukwu Amadi and his wife, Ogechi as well as Chukwudi Nwosu alias Skido from Abia State, 36-year-old Felix Chinemerem also from Abia, Chukwuemeka Ikenna Bosah who is 28 years old and from Anambra State and 42-year-old Bayelsa State-born Suoyo Paul aka Nwana who was touted to be the gang’s armourer.
Items recovered from the gang include two double barrel guns, two AK 47 rifles, 59 AK 47 magazines, two English pistols, 1, 272 bullets, five different number plates and improvised leg chains used in restraining their victims.
The chains, which look like the types used during the dehumanising slave trade era. A police source confided in Saturday Telegraph that one of Evans’ mistresses assisted in his arrest. But when pressed to shed more light on this aspect, the source refused. “Yes we were assisted by one of his mistresses but we don’t want to put her at any risk,” the source said.
Why I collected foreign currency as ransom
A grand planner of things, Evans said he made the decision to collect ransom in foreign currency, especially dollars while not minding pounds and Euros. “I usually collect ransoms in dollars and I made the decision after my former partner, Uche, was killed along with Hunchman and others and I had to reassemble a new team. His death came from the encounter we had with the police when we wanted to kidnap the ‘Young Shall Grow’ man, Chief Vincent Obianodo.
“His security shot at us as there was a gun battle, Uche and two others died in the process and I had to flee from the scene in my car, one other guy who was shot in the car I was driving later died and I abandoned the body.
“After the incident, I escaped to Abuja for things to cool off for a while. I was in Abuja for about two months and once I got back to Lagos, I went to secure the ‘materials’ we were using for the job and reassembled my team.
The thing about kidnapping is that the person who owns the materials (guns, hideout and vehicles) is usually seen as the owner of the job and now fully in charge, I took the decisions and became the person now leading the team in every area and also rented a house at Igando”.
Apart from other kidnappings in Edo State, where he, along with others, made sums ranging between N10 and N40million for each operation, Evans was able to amass a fortune running into over N1billion from kidnapping numerous businessmen in Lagos, with at least four of them paying $1million each.
Evans, working with Ehis and Harrison, organised some of the biggest kidnappings in Edo State in the last few years. Some of the people they kidnapped include the boss of King Paints (N7m), Randeki (N11m), Uyi Technical boss (N100m) as well as Dan Odite around the same time. According to him, other associates who negotiated with the Odite’s family Henry, said the money paid was $27,000.
It was while in Edo State, with the stakes rising fast, that he decided to relocate his young family to Ghana. Settling them in Tema in Accra, the capital of the former Gold Coast, Evans felt more empowered to fly as much as he could.
Why I left Edo for Lagos
When he decided to relocate to Lagos, a move necessitated by the surging number of kidnappers in Edo and with the operational space becoming smaller, he rented an apartment at Lakeview Estate in Amuwo Odofin and fully came back to Lagos in 2013.
With Lagos as his new playing field along with his gang, they started with Raymond Okoye, a generator dealer kidnapped on one of his days of frequenting a bar on 21 Road, Festac Town in Lagos.
After days of standing firm in conversations with the man’s family, they ended up paying between N30million and N40 million, out of which Evans said he got N35million. Others include the boss of Uchesons, a man kidnapped at 6th Avenue also in Festac. A man from Okija, Anambra State, who resides in Ajao Estate, was next and they got N60 million after keeping him for weeks. Once on his own, the two businessmen at the Auto Spare Parts and Machinery Dealers Association (ASPAMDA), better known as Trade Fair, were the first Evans would kidnap.
With the abductions done around the same time, it fetched him $1million each from the two men. One of them, Udoji, who was picked from around his residence at Agbara, was injured in the process.
Bleeding profusely hours after he was abducted, Evans said it led him into going online to get information on how to stop the bleeding while making it clear to the man’s wife who was abroad and whom he was speaking with at the time that the injury was as a result of an accident.
Other victims are Ojukwu Comsom, who was kidnapped in front of his house in Festac and ended up paying 350,000 Euros and Francis Umeh whose family had to cough up $300,000 for him to regain his freedom.
A pharmacist known as Donatus was also one of his victims but despite the man’s family members paying as much as 228,000 Euros, he was not released until he luckily escaped.
His houses in Magodo, Ejigbo and Igando and operations cars
Moving to Magodo in 2014 after purchasing a house from a real estate firm in charge of numerous houses at the pricey location, Evans consolidated by further spreading his tentacles. He bought two other houses for keeping his victims, one in the densely populated Ejigbo part of Lagos and another in Igando, bringing the number of his houses in Igando to two and adding three new vehicles; a Grand Cherokee SUV, Lexus 460 SUV and a Hilux which was solely for operations.
So sophisticated was Evans’ operational model that the members of his three different gangs could hardly reach him on their own; the conversation had to be initiated from his end and most times, the direction was one-sided. One of the phones he used was a satellite phone which doesn’t use a SIM and cannot be tracked It was learnt that while most of the people Evans had worked with are dead, a few are serving jail terms across the country, but neither the dead nor those serving jail term could be linked with him.
He operated like a cult but even the initiated who were members of his gang had no contact with him except shortly before or during their operations. According to him, he is still trying to adjust to the harsh reality of his arrest.
“I can say my arrest was the handiwork of God because of all the security measures I put in place. In my house in Magodo, I have all round security completed with CCTVs that monitor anyone coming in or going out. According to CSP Moshood, the Force Public Relations Officer, some high-profile victims of the Evans kidnap gang include James Uduji, Uche Okoroafor.
Pharmacist’s kidnap, my toughest
Speaking of his victims, Evans said: “I didn’t know it was going to turn out that way. I usually don’t know names of people I kidnapped in Festac. But if I see them, I will tell you what I did to them. I have people who gave me information about my victims. The pharmacist job is the only one that gave us a problem. I keep my victims for months because I want their people to pay the ransom I demanded. I have people cooking for my victims, one of them stays in the house; his name is Uche.
“We kept him (the pharmacist) at Uche’s house in New Ignado but he managed to escape. The other boy is from Aguleri. The boy is a new person, but Uche is old.” On his Magodo houses, he said: “I bought the houses in Magodo GRA for N130 million and N100 million.
Evans, described as a very brilliant but vicious kidnapper by the police, said he kept many gangs and did not interact with many of his gang members on a personal note which made it difficult to pin him down.
Asked why almost all his victims were from the South East, he said it was just a business decision. Trending like a furious rainstorm since the story broke on Saturday, it is a matter that has got Nigerians numbed owing to the sheer bravado of his operations and the range of Evans’ reach while living a life of luxury in the midst of the high and mighty as an everyday Nigerian.
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