By SOC Okenwa…
The incarcerated billionaire kidnapping kingpin, Chukwudumeme Onwuamadike, popularly known as Evans, is still standing trial in an Ikeja High Court in Lagos where he is facing a two-count charge of conspiracy and kidnapping alongside six others. Last weekend he was once again brought before Justice Hakeem Oshodi. According to reliable online reports Evans had narrated before the trial Judge how he was tortured ruthlessly by SARS men and other security agents and forced to sign some documents the content of which he never knew! He told the presiding Judge how dozens of people were systematically eliminated by a method of killing without evidence called “Saddam Hussein”.
He gave a gory detail of the inside workings in SARS cells painting a horrible picture of asphyxiation, killings without trace and boastings of the glorified ‘killers’ that no autopsy would ever detect or reveal the source of deaths. Specifically he told of how the police killed one Felix Chinemeri in his presence! The notorious law enforcement agents used both crude and rude intimidation methods to obtain the maximum co-operation of the big-man kidnapper forcing him to sign up whatever was written without his knowledge or consent.
After listening to the submission of Evans, the trial Judge adjourned the case until November 23 this year for continuation of defence in the trial-within-trial.
Evans’ revelations, shocking as they were, reinforced what some discerning Nigerians know about the innumerous atrocities of SARS and other security organizations in Nigeria. While Evans deserves whatever comes to him as a price for his nefarious ‘business’ activities involving abduction for ransom justice frowns at torture and extra-judicial killings. Very few Nigerians can afford to express any sympathy or solidarity with Evans given the fact that he had inflicted a whole lot of pain and suffering on his numerous victims prior to his capture and prosecution.
Apart from the staggering huge ransoms he imposed on or demanded from those he had abducted Evans became notorious for other things incompatible with lawful citizenry. Apart from the huge ransoms he collected (often in Dollars or Euros) before releasing those he kidnapped there were those that must have been killed for their inability to meet the financial demands of Evans and his heartless gang. Others were conveniently declared ‘missing’! The man from Anambra state waged a ‘war’ against innocent Nigerians and his network of terror went beyond ethnic or religious boundaries.
Today while justice is taking its time to do the needful in his case Evans must not try to evoke any empathy from any quarters for whatever reason, for none was available anywhere. No one ‘opened’ the lucrative business of kidnapping for him in the first place hence whatever repercussions that followed his apprehension must be borne with equanimity. No complaints, just facing the law and its dictates would do for now!
The embattled billionaire kidnapper reminds one of the late dare-devil armed robber in Benin City, Lawrence Anini alias “The Law” who was tried in the early 90’s and subsequently executed by firing squad for his violent crimes. Like Anini who was declared wanted with a bounty placed on his head during the military dictatorship of General Ibrahim Babangida Evans became a wanted man for taking some rich men and women away against their will and asking for money in order for them to regain their freedom!
Like Anini Evans was once considered invincible for his capacity to beat the security network in his trail day and night. But like Anini he had paid agents in the security agencies who supplied him with both sophisticated weapons and classified informations with which he operated with relative ease. But no one was surprised for his ability to evade the law because in Nigeria money is everything! Unless you do not belong to the ‘moneyed’ club of richness then you can afford to be afraid of say, killing someone or breaking any law! With money you can buy a police officer, a Judge, or whoever is willing to name a price!
Anini, however, upon his cup of karma filling to the brim, was caught in his girlfriend’s house somewhere in town. Evans, too, was cornered in his palatial home in Lagos — perhaps betrayed by a mistress or a snitch! He was captured because his cup was full and the game was up. No marabout or fetish priest could have delivered a rogue who was at loggerheads with the law.
There is time for everything under heaven; a time to be rich and a time to be poor, a time to weep and a time to laugh. A time to kidnap and a time to ‘vomit’ that thing kidnapped. A time to rob and a time to be robbed of a life! There is reason behind every season. A season of looting and reason for same!
Biblically we are made to understand that behind every season there is time and reason (purpose). Therefore, there is reason for every season. Now, what the ancient holy men (Peter, Paul, John, Matthew etc) omitted in their scriptural accounts was that behind every seasonal looting Nigeriana there is perhaps an unpatriotic kleptocratic reason. Behind every Anini there was a George Iyamu! And behind every Evans there were corrupt cops and moles.
Between the late Anini and Evans the similarity of their lawless personas begins and ends with criminality. While the former was a benevolent Oliver Twist-like dangerous bandit who shared some of his booty on the streets of Benin city Evans was greedy and stingy from all indications. He lived in obscene opulence while inflicting agony on his victims.
If Lawrence Anini in his lifetime had ventured into politics by contesting for an office in Oredo Local Government Area in particular or Edo State in general he would have ‘won’ convincingly because of his ‘popularity’ in the neighbourhoods and his munificence. In Nigeria, because of poverty people like the late Lamidi Adedibu and Ayo Fayose are loved by their people for their ‘stomach infrastructure’ schemes!
Evans, on the other hand, even in his state of Anambra was living a fake life. There was no evidence of charity linked to him anywhere. Unlike the controversial ‘Bishop’ Aloysius Ikegwuonwu whose father was brutally assassinated some months ago inside St. Philips Catholic Parish in Ozobulu town, a magnificient church he built and donated to his community Evans ‘ate’ alone and must ‘die’ alone! Unlike Aloy the unordained ‘Bishop’ (who was said to be involved in narcotics business in South Africa) who ‘invests’ in his people’s welfare, infrastructurally and financially, Evans remains a ‘minus’ in Igboland.
In Nigeria crime pays huge dividends! Whether it is violent crimes aided and abetted by arms or political crimes involving the looting of the treasury we live in a ‘fantastically-corrupt’ country where punishment for crimes is often determined by political forces more than the forces of the judiciary. Many politicians are still living opulently, free from any judicial worries even when they are known to have stolen from the commonwealth of the people. While the federal government security agencies hunt down terrorists up north or kidnappers down south or armed robbers in the south-west the white-collar crimes are more difficult to deal with.
The late Anini paid dearly with his life and Evans may pay with long years imprisonment. Politicians must be made to pay for their fiscal crimes in the next presidential dispensation next year — that is, if a change in government at the centre happens to take place as predicted widely.
RipplesNigeria… without borders, without fears