Donatius Dunu, the managing director of Maydon Pharmaceuticals Ltd., Lagos, on Friday, March 16, 2018, told an Ikeja High Court how he was kidnapped and held for 88 days by the suspected kidnap kingpin, Chukwudumeme Onwuamadike alias Evans and his gang.
Evans is standing trial alongside Uche Amadi, Ogechi Uchechukwu, Okwuchukwu Nwachukwu, Chilaka Ifeanyi and Victor Aduba on a two-count charge of conspiracy and kidnapping.
Dunu, who was led in evidence by Titilayo Shitta-Bey, the Lagos State Director of Public Prosecutions, DPP, in a lengthy four-hour testimony.
The pharmaceutical boss, the second prosecution witness, began his testimony by identifying his alleged captors.
Removing his spectacles and pointing to the defendants in the dock, he said: “I know this one he is Evans, I know the second one he is Uche and I know the fourth one he is Congo.”
Narrating the events of his kidnap on February 14, 2017, Dunu added: “At 7.30 p.m. when I closed from work, I was going home along Obokun Street, Ilupeju, Lagos.
“I suddenly saw an SUV in front of my car, I wanted to reverse but two people came out of the SUV holding long guns.
“They pointed the long guns at me and dragged me out of my car and pushed me into the booth of the SUV, covering me with a car cover, someone lay on top of me and I was taken to an unknown place.
“On our way, they brought out a locally made iron and bound my hands with and when we had reached the unknown place and while face down I was taken to a bungalow.
“In the parlour of the house, they started asking for my name, my wife, and children’s name as well as the name of my hometown.
“After telling them, their chairman asked them to bring guns, a very long gun and a black and silver pistol were brought, they showed me the guns and Ak47 was written on the long gun.”
Dunu said after giving his personal information, the kidnap gang demanded a ransom.
“They said now that I have said all these things, it is confirmed that I am the person that they are looking for and I have to pay the ‘bail’.
“Their chairman said that I should give them ‘their money’ and that it has to be complete and that nothing must remain.
“The chairman is Evans, he is their boss, after they made their demands they put me in a dark room.
“Their money was the money that they wanted to take from me, they had not mentioned any amount at this point.
“When I was taken to the dark room, I was asked to remove my clothes and I was given a pair of boxer short to wear and I was blindfolded where I remained till April 10, 2017.
“That night, they brought a phone that their chairman wanted to speak to me, the chairman told me that I was nobody on earth can bring me out that it is only God that will bring me out.
“He said that if I should prove stubborn, he will give me an injection that will make me forget myself in life and that he can also ask his boys to use pillow to suffocate me that no one will know about it.
“A week later, I told the boys that I want to speak to their chairman and the next day they brought a phone to me that their chairman wanted to speak to me.
“He asked where I have warehouses and he also asked me why I used to go to Alaka Estate in Surulere, I told him I have a friend there but one of my warehouses are in Eriaka Street and I have two other warehouses in Alao Estate, Lagos.
“He asked for the addresses and I told him I didn’t know the addresses, he told me that he heard that I gave my staff 40 Toyota Corolla cars and he heard I pay my graduate staff N50,000 per month,” he said.
Dunu added: “I told him yes that the N50,000 was for their take home but it was like a contract that if they make their target for the sale of good, they earn a commission.
“The phone call ended and three or four days later, the boys brought the phone to me telling me that my bail is 2 million dollars.
“Giving me the phone, I started pleading with him that even our entire family does not have such money, after my plea the money came down to 1 million dollars and they took back the phone.
“After three days, they brought back the phone and they told me that my fee is no longer 1 million dollars but 1 million euros, that he has got more information about me and the phone was taken away.”
The CEO told the court that the kidnappers contacted his older brother, Anselem Dunu, for the ransom, noting that he was tortured and beaten every time his brother was on the phone with the kidnappers.
“I was in a very bad condition when we were negotiating the ransom, they removed my mattress and I was made to sleep on the tiled floor.
“My hands were bound with locally made iron and my legs were bound with shackles used for mad men.
“When I told my brother about the ransom, he started crying that where are we going to get that kind of amount in an economic recession.
“Anytime they called my brother they will beat me for him to hear my cries, I told my brother to get to know sources where we can borrow money from.
“At a point he said they were able to raise N60 million that when I come out, they will get the remaining money from me.
“He said I and my brother are talking rubbish and that he should change the money into euro as agreed.
“There was a time the Naira appreciated so much sometime in March last year that he (Evans) asked not to change it to Euros anymore.
“Later when the Naira depreciated, he asked them to go back to Euros, I pleaded with him that Euros was hard to change and his boys later told me to ask for a discount.
“He agreed to a 50 percent discount and my bail was reduced from 1 million euros to 500,000 Euros.”
Dunu said his communication with his brother was done via conference call with Evans on the phone line.
He said on Wednesday before 2017 Easter, Evans agreed to reduce his ransom to 250,000 euros.
“My brother said that they were only able to raise 223,000 euros and that the 27,000 euros that will make it 250,000 euros is about N11 million and that it took the family almost two months to raise 223,000 euros and that it was very difficult raising such amount.
“My brother pleaded that they should take the 223,000 euros and that when I come out they will get the balance.
“He (Evans) got annoyed, he told my brother that he will be the one to bring the ransom to them that he will see how he will go home alive and if he brings the money, he will be shot.
“My brother responded that their money is in the bank and that he will never bring the money and that his driver will deliver the money.
“At this point the boys collected the phone and started shouting that God will punish him, thunder will fire him.
“This happened on the Wednesday of passion week, I could tell that it was Passion Week because a Celestial Church was close to their detention camp,” Dunu said.
He said on Easter Monday, he overheard two of his captors plotting to kill him at a canal on the Friday of that week.
He continued: “Evans came the next day and I was given Indomie to eat to give me strength to face them at the canal.
“He told me that to kill a human being is not a sin that if God can permit a lion to kill other animals, then to kill a human being is not a sin.
“The next morning they brought a box that had various dangerous weapons and a particular one had a very long handle and they told me that if it should get into me it will touch my heart.
“I pleaded for my life that I have very young children with the oldest being 14 years old.”
According to Dunu, at 3.00 a.m. on the Thursday preceding his planned murder, he escaped from captivity.
“There was a bed sheet on the bed and as a joke, I wrapped it around the leg shackles and the padlocks opened.
“At that point I said to myself I will go, if I stay they will kill me, if they catch me while trying to escape they will still kill me, I might as well go.
“The other person who was to guard me was asleep on a settee in the parlour, the fan was on and was so noisy.
“The wooden kitchen door was not locked but the burglar proof was locked, I unlocked the upper and lower bolts and when I pushed the burglar proof that locks slid from the hook.
“In the compound, there was something like a ladder leaning on the fence and the top portion of the fence where the ladder was did not have bottles.
“I jumped over the fence into another compound and knocked on a window and told the man that responded my problem.
“He said that he did not know me that I should get away from their compound or they will call the police or security and I asked him to call the police.
“The man and his wife got up from their bed and brought out their phones to call the police; at that point NEPA took light and they went back to bed.
“Something told me to hide and not long after past 6.00 a.m., they started looking for me in their big bike and Toyota Hiace.
“The people I jumped into their compound woke up and saw me hiding, I asked the woman to put me in the booth of their Honda Accord car and get me away.
“She said No that the only thing they could do for me is to call the chairman of the area.
“There are two families living in that compound, a small boy of about 20 to 22 years came out with a plastic pipe and chased me away that I am a thief.”
He said he went to a nearby nursery school where he drew the attention of members of the public because of his unkempt appearance.
Dunu told the court: “A man asked for my wife’s telephone number, he dialed it and it did not go through.
“I gave him my cousin’s number, Mr Jude Afugbue, the line went through and he asked my cousin about our relationship, when my cousin confirmed we were cousins, he became convinced I was not a thief.”
He said he was taken to Idimu Police Station where he was reunited with his older brother Anselem.
“I was taken to the office of the Commissioner of Police at Ikeja and from there to Surulere to the Anti-cultism and Kidnapping Section.
“The police and I went to the house at Igando where they kept me, the house was locked and they broke the locks and arms as ammunition were recovered.”
Dunu also gave the details of his recovery from the traumatising experience: “We went back to the Commissioner’s office and I was taken to a hospital, where I stayed for a week and from there I went to a hotel to hide.
“I was in hiding for a month and two or three days and I went abroad for further check up.”
He said after his ordeal, Evans and his accomplices asked him for forgiveness.
“I met the first defendant (Evans) at Police House, Ikoyi, when they were asking him questions, he apologised to me that I should forgive him that it was the devil that made him do it.
“I met the second defendant (Uche) at the Police House, Ikoyi, when the police asked him questions and he answered, I recognised his voice as the one that used to give me food and medicine at the detention camp.
“He is from Imo and he speaks Imo, the second person who is still a large call himself Adebayo but he is from Anambra.
“The fourth defendant is Congo, I met him at Agege Police Station, I confronted him saying that he is my town’s man that I did not know that he was involved until the police showed him to me.
“He was trying to beg that it was the devil that led him to give Evans information about me, that I should forgive him.
“The 223,000 euros that were paid as ransom has never been recovered.”
Dunu while being cross-examined by Mr. Olukoya Ogungbeje, Evans’ lawyer, said that he made a mistake by giving conflicting dates of February 14, 2017, and April 14, 2017, as the date of his kidnap in his statement to the police.
He also said that while writing his statement after his release, he was unaware that a ransom had been paid.
“I did not know while writing the statement that my brother has paid the 223,000 euros to them because the last time I had spoke to him (Anselem) was Wednesday of the Passion Week.”
Justice Hakeem Oshodi adjourned the case until May 10 for continuation of trial and cross-examination of Dunu.