Fate is an intricate decider of human life. So it was with an Enugu-based lawyer, Ellias Ugwu, 60, who went to rescue his kidnapped cousin in Kogi State, last week. His cousin, Alexander Ugwu, 53, a businessman at Akpanya, Benue State, was going back to his base in a commercial bus when they encountered heavily armed Fulani herdsmen who blocked the highway while kidnapping.

Fate is an intricate decider of human life. So it was with an Enugu-based lawyer, Ellias Ugwu, 60, who went to rescue his kidnapped cousin in Kogi State, last week. His cousin, Alexander Ugwu, 53, a businessman at Akpanya, Benue State, was going back to his base in a commercial bus when they encountered heavily armed Fulani herdsmen who blocked the highway while kidnapping.

His abductors later called demanding N10m. Though the ransom was later reduced to N4m, the lot fell on the Nsukka legal luminary to move into the bush and rescue Alexander. This, he succeeded in doing after engaging another of his friend, to accompany him to the den of the kidnappers.

Tragically, as they were joyously returning home, calling friends and family members to share their joy, their excitement was cut short and turned into sorrow. A team of policemen who were on the trail of bandits that earlier raided some police stations and banks at Anyigba, a nearby town, accosted them and the legal practitioner who was driving his car was shot dead. Alexander, the kidnapped victim, who was at the back of the car when his uncle’s life was cut short, in this interview, gave vivid details of how the heart-wrenching incident happened. Excerpts:

How I was captured

“To commence my travel from Iheakpu-oka village to Anyigba on March 2, 2024, I boarded a vehicle going to Ejule from an Army checkpoint situated between Aloma and Ejule. Precisely, the village called Iboko. While on our way, we encountered heavily armed herdsmen who were stopping vehicles, shooting and kidnapping people.

They kidnapped everyone in the car (six persons), including the driver. And we were all taken into the bush. The incident happened around 6:20 PM that Saturday, and I was there till Monday morning when they began to request for ransom.


Before my phone went off, the first relation that I could speak to over the phone was my cousin, Elias Ugwu, whose father is my father’s elder brother. I called him and told him the kidnappers were requesting for N10 million because, according to them, once an individual is from the Eastern part of the country, he or she must be wealthy.
I explained to them that I didn’t have money. They countered, saying if I didn’t have money, my relatives had.

Meanwhile, they collected a ransom of N130,000 from the driver’s family. Also, they collected N200,000 as ransom from the family of a first-year student at Kogi State University, KSU, who is from Ogugu, in Kogi State.

Shocked by the ransom that they (driver and student) were asked to pay, I asked why my case was different.
However, If anyone talked, they would beat the hell out of the person. They later reduced my ransom to N4million. I was given the privilege to communicate the ransom to my uncle, who informed all my relatives including Iheakpuoka community in Anyigba about their demand. When the money was finally raised, the kidnappers asked them to bring the ransom before they could rescue me.

Though my uncle was to come on Friday to pay the ransom and rescue me, he couldn’t make it. But when my captors finally called him at around 5 pm, he said he was at Ejule. The kidnappers then told him what to buy for them. They told him to buy Nkpurummiri (hard drug), water and N10,000 pack of energy drinks.

Around 7 pm on Friday, they called him, and he said he couldn’t come out at that time to Aloma, that he is an old man and he was afraid. They said he should sleep somewhere, that the next day they would tell him when and where to bring the ransom and the items.
On Saturday morning, 9th of March, we usually take long-distance walks with these kidnappers inside the bush barefooted. It is from one bush to another. On Friday night we moved to another village called Abeji…..I can’t remember the real name. In fact, we didn’t even know where we were till in the morning when we asked, they told us where we were. We started communicating with my uncle unknown to us that there was a bank robbery on Thursday in Ayingba and this was happening on Saturday morning.

So, the villagers who saw my uncle and his friend that were coming to rescue me, driving around, were the ones that called the police informing them that there is a vehicle that is roaming around the community through an escape road behind the university.
So, the policemen came and and laid ambush. They parked their vehicle in the bush close to the road. When we were coming back, we saw a police vehicle packed distantly and we were happily approaching the vehicle. The next thing we heard was ‘stop’and then the sound of gunshots and my brother was hit on his head. He lost control, the vehicle ran into the bush. That was when one of the security people said they are police officers. I used a cloth to tie my uncle’s head because he was bleeding profusely. They tried to pull out the vehicle but we could not. The police then used something to attach it to their Hilux to pull out the vehicle.

We already told them who we were, but it was already too late. They had finished searching the vehicle expecting to see a huge sum of money. The kind of clothes I wore made them realise that I was a victim of kidnap, they became tired. They took us to Maria Goretti Hospital in Ayingba. When we got to the hospital, the officer in charge told his men not to allow us to speak to anyone. They handcuffed and took us to the area command’s office. My uncle was admitted. It was on Sunday morning that he died.

At about 11 am the following day, they came with their Hiliux and took us to Area one police Station, Lokoja. That was where we were tortured and questioned, and later wrote our statements. They said we were armed robbers I said no, I am. a kidnap victim. The man who came with my uncle to pay ransom asked them to bring out the money they took from our vehicle, that the money was withdrawn from Nsukka, Zenith bank, not Anyingba. Luckily they brought out N300,000 from the vehicle, the teller zenith bank, Nsukka was boldly written on paper used in folding the money. I brought out the clothes that I wore all through my captivity in the kidnapper’s den, that was when they believed we were not robbers.

When we finished writing our statements, they took us into a cell. We slept in the cell till Monday morning when they started taking us from one office to another. They put on camera while interviewing us. Then, the officer in charge asked them not to put us inside the cell again. He then asked us to call our relatives to come and bail us. That was how we were bailed on Tuesday morning.

No, we didn’t pay a dime. because one of the people who came for my bail is very popular and was communicating directly with the Commissioner of Police.

Immediately the police shot him, he was unconscious, he was breathing heavily, he didn’t say anything.

The police ambushed us, they hid their vehicle inside the bush and laid ambush. If you see the barrister’s vehicle, you will understand better. The car glass was not rolled up and the shot that killed him was fired from that side. The man that released the bullets was being called Sampolo by his colleagues. They now asked us to take my uncle’s corpse and vehicle back to our place.

They were not giving us food. We were eating only cashew for the eight days we were inside the bush. I could not go to the toilet for once. Every night, we must trek for three to four hours in the bushes.

They are young men, who are under age thirty. If they slap you, you will think it is from a woman.
They have sophisticated weapons.

I don’t know when they arrived, but they released eight of us that morning. When my uncle came with his friend, Chidi Aneke, they asked him to kneel down. They ordered his friend to slap him. Chidi did. They corked the gun and told him to slap him very well and he did. When they came out from the vehicle, they carried the cash into the bush, my uncle knelt till they confirmed the cash. That was when they released and handed me over to him. It was after that, as we were coming home and making calls, happily informing our people that I have been freed, this incident happened.

  • This report was originally published by VANGUARD newspaper

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