Chioma Joseph, Lagos.
A 23-year-old dismissed soldier, Friday Domozu, who allegedly led a notorious kidnap cum armed robbery gang that abducted a six-year-old girl, Farida Yahaya, and later beheaded her in Kogi state, has been arrested.
Preliminary investigation revealed that the girl and her 14-year-old brother, Abdulraheem Ibrahim, were abducted from their parents house in Ogane-Enugu village, Dekina Local Government Area of Kogi state, on November 2, 2020.
While Ibrahim luckily escaped form the kidnappers den, five days after his abduction, his sister was allegedly beheaded and burnt.
It was gathered that the terror gang, who had been unleashing mayhem on villages in Kogi, Nasarawa and other northern states, allegedly targeted the children following a debt owed a gang member by a member of the family.
Arrested by operatives of the Police Intelligence Response Team (IRT), it was learnt that Domozu and his other gang members had demanded N12 million as ransom from the family of the children.
They had also reportedly abducted and killed a contractor and an operator of Timber wood cutting machine, Ibrahim Madaki, aged 40, from Aza village in Nasarawa state, after collecting 1.5 million ransom in the same area ,
According to a police source privy to the operation that led to Domozu’s arrest on January 10, three other members of the gang are still at large.
The source said: “ The incident was reported to the office of the FIB- IRT on December 29, 2020. Ibalrahim reportedly escaped and even told his family that he recognised one of the kidnappers, whom he had seen in the village before.
“ After painstaking follow ups by the operatives of FIB-IRT, using technical intelligence trailed and arrested one Friday Domozu, at Sheria area, suburb of Oguma village in Bassa LGA of Kogi state on January 10, and recovery of the phone used for ransom negotiation and victim’s phone.
“ During interrogation he confessed to have led three other gang members who are at large to carry out the crime and also confessed that Farida died while in their custody. He also confessed to the kidnap, killing and burning of a contractor and Farida and led operatives to Gabije forest where the remains and carcass of the two deceased, were recovered by operatives of IRT and deposited at morgue of saint Grimad catholic hospital Anyigba area of Dekina LGA for autopsy.
“ Meanwhile serious efforts are on to arrest the fleeing gang members.”
In his confessional statement, the suspect admitted to the crime, saying he joined the military in 2020, but was dismissed after he got injured during training.
He said: “ I was amongst the batch 79 intake and we were sent to Zaria camp for training. I was not dismissed but withdrawn because of the accident that I had while in training. We organized a boxing competition is camp and I was one of the boxers.
“ When it was my turn, the plank that we used to construct the boxing ring broke and my leg was affected. They rushed me to the hospital and the X-ray showed that my leg was no longer good to be a military man.
“ The rule states that if a recruit stays away from training after five days such a person should be withdrawn. When I returned, I went into farming before my friends m decided to confuse my life. Someone has died and it actually a child.”
Giving details on how Farida died, the suspect maintained the gang did not burn her alive. He said: “ They told me that a man was owing them, initially I refused to join tjem for the operation, but they convinced me.
It was at night so I waited outside while the four of them with their AK47 entered and came out with two children.
“ We took the children to Gabeji area inside the thick forest. We contacted their family and started asking for money if they want children safe home. They told us that the small girl is a sickler and we told them to hurry up if they wanted her home alive. We feed them with roasted yam, banana that we found in the forest and stream water.
“ Unfortunately, on the fourth day, the boy escaped because the person watching him slept off. We went to the forest to look for him that was how we found one man that said his name is Ibrahim cutting wood, he challenged us that he knows what we are doing in the bush.
He claimed that he saw the boy and will report us if we do not release the girl. We over powered him and tied him up while we called his boss to send money if they wanted her alive.
“ We took him back to the forest and the next day the girl died. She was shouting of stomach pain, so we mixed some herbs and gave her to drink. Unfortunately, she died.
We were still contemplating what to do when the man that we also abducted picked a matchet and hit one of us on the head. We got angry and killed him. We picked the two corpse and dropped it by stream.
We all ran away but kept communicating with both family with hope that we can get small money.
“ It was the boss of the man that sent N120,000. We put their body inside one slope and everyone went their separate ways. It is when police arrested us that we saw that the body was burnt.
Speaking on his relationship with the family of the deceased girl, Domozu said: “ I know the family very well because the community is small. They even contributed for me when they heard I was going to Zaria for training.
I had no reason to allow that to happen but those boys forced me. Even when the girl died, I was shocked.
“ If I had told the family their daughter was dead, my other gang members would have killed me. That was why I had to continue visiting the community so that they will not suspect that I was part of it.
“ I was surprised when police picked me and had so much information about my involvement. I had no choice but to confess. I am so sorry and I know that my fate is in God’s hand.”