On Friday, March 10, 2023, sporadic gunshots rented the air on Ifoshi road in Ejigbo axis in Lagos state, causing motorists plying that route to scamper to safety while shop owners and hawkers abandoned their wares while trying to stay safe.
The target of the four-man gang comprising of a ‘pregnant woman’, was a business man, Timothy Uche. Uche was driving into a shopping complex housing his electronic store about 9.30 pm to pick up his children who were waiting for him when the armed men rained his car with bullets. They dragged him out of his car and whisked him away in their operational vehicle, leaving a haze of dust billowing behind.
After keeping his family in suspense for over 48 hours, the kidnappers eventually called and demanded N70 million ransom, which they insisted must be paid in United States Dollars before Uche would be released.
On Tuesday, March 14, 2023, Mr. Uche was released after paying an unspecified amount as ransom.
Narrating his three nights ordeal in the hands of his captors, he disclosed that the pregnant woman among the gang, turned out to be a man after all. He said,
“I thank God for not allowing any of the bullets to hit me. They even fired a bullet at my car seat. it burned the upholstery of the seat but didn’t touch me.
‘’ When they took me into their car, they drove through Egbe, Idimu, and Lasu roads, to an apartment in the Ayobo area of Lagos State, where I was kept for three days. While I was struggling with them in their vehicle, they attempted to stab me with a knife and shoot me with a gun. But none penetrated. There were bruises on me. One of them even cut through my signet but the knife could not penetrate. That was the power of God at work.
“For the three days, I spent in their custody, I was fed and medically treated. There have been three kidnap attempts on me and this is the only time they succeeded.
While I was in the kidnappers’ den, one of them said they had been monitoring me since last Monday.
“They demanded N70 million ransom. When they discovered that my wife could not raise the amount, they reduced it to N15 million. After much bargaining and plea, they reduced it again to N5 million, when it became obvious that money was not forthcoming. But they insisted it must be paid in dollars.
“They kept me in an apartment and communicated in English and Igbo dialects. I later discovered that one of them who dressed like a pregnant woman was actually a man.
“Throughout my stay there, I was always praying, during one of my prayer moments, one of them tapped me on the shoulder and said: ’’It is okay, your prayers have been answered. Let us do what we want to do and leave here. But you must promise to give us the balance later.’’
“ He said I should give them whatever I had. At one point, they started quarreling among themselves. I realized that prayers were being offered by the church on my behalf and God took over.
“After the ransom was paid, they shared it among themselves in my presence. They even quarrelled over the sharing formula. As they were going to drop me off, they blindfolded me. They dropped me off at Ayobo on Tuesday, March 14, 2023, and told me they would come back for me. They did not release my phone to me”, he said.
Policemen at Ejigbo division, according to Uche, were alerted when he was kidnapped. After his release, Uche reported to the division.
Sources at the division said the investigation had begun, assuring that all mechanisms towards arresting the kidnappers had been put on motion.