The three men alleged to have kidnapped and killed the human resources manager of the Dangote Industries Limited, Istifanus Bello, have said he was murdered for bringing incomplete ransom.
The suspects – Abdullahi Saliu, Babuga Adamu and Abubakar Gide – told PUNCH Metro that Bello got them angry after bringing N5.6m instead of the N10m agreed for the release of four expatriates earlier kidnapped by their gang.
They said Bello was killed after he had been held for three days because he allegedly refused to call his employer to pay the balance of N4.4m.
PUNCH Metro had reported that Bello had gone to the Ijebu-Igbo area of Ogun State with N5.6m as ransom payment for the four expatriates.
While the foreigners were released, he was abducted and later killed.
His corpse was reportedly recovered from a river by the police.
Investigations by the Abba Kyari-led Inspector-General of Police Intelligence Response Team resulted in the arrest of Saliu, Adamu and Gide in Lagos, Kwara and Ogun states.
The men, who were Fulani herdsmen, were on Tuesday transferred from the Force headquarters in Abuja to the Special Anti-Robbery Squad, Ikeja, Lagos, pending the conclusion of investigation.
In an exclusive chat with our correspondent, the suspects, who spoke in Yoruba, said 10 of them carried out the operation.
Twenty-year-old Saliu, an indigene of Kano State, said they were led by one Alti, who fired the shot that killed Bello.
He said, “We were 10 that carried out the operation and we were all fully armed. We had attacked and abducted the four expatriates while they worked in a quarry located in a forest in Ijebu-Igbo; they were guarded by two policemen who had an AK-47 rifle and a pump-action rifle. We surrounded the quarry, overpowered the policemen and took one of their rifles. We didn’t touch them.
“We then moved the expatriates into the forest where we fed them with bread and soft drinks. We made contact with their families and the company and demanded N30m ransom. We later reduced the money to N20m and then N10m.
“Some days later, the man (Bello) brought N5.6m. Our leader, Alti, was angry and after releasing the four expatriates, he seized the man. He said he must call his family members or the firm to pay up the remaining N4.4m or else he would be killed in three days. But the man said he does not have any number to give us and he does not have any money. After the three days elapsed and nobody came for him, he was shot dead.”
Saliu said he was paid N150,000 from the ransom after which he left the group.
PUNCH Metro learnt that the suspects dumped the victim’s corpse in a river and tied it to a log to prevent the corpse from floating.
Another suspect, Adamu, 25, said he had persuaded Alti against killing the victim, adding that the leader rebuked him.
“I was given N190,000 for my role. I still have the bulk of the money. When the man brought the ransom, I was the one that led the group to take the money. I was able to do this because I have lived in Ijebu-Igbo for over 10 years; I was brought up here. When Alti insisted on killing the man, I told him to take the man far from where our cows graze; I said it was none of my business if he killed him,” he added.
The third suspect, 24-year-old Gide, from the Gumi Local Government Area of Sokoto State, said Adamu made him to join the group.
He said his role was to buy food for the expatriates.
A source told PUNCH Metro that the police and some vigilance group members had first apprehended Saliu and transferred him to the Ogun State Special Anti-Robbery Squad, adding that when they didn’t have a breakthrough, the IGP team was invited.
He said, “After we intervened, Saliu confessed to us and took us to where the man’s corpse was. It was already decomposing when we found it. Fish had even picked out his eyes. We contacted some council officials, who removed the corpse and deposited it in a mortuary from where some employees of the Dangote company picked it.
“From the information we gathered, we arrested Adamu’s brother, who gave us his address in a forest in Epe, Lagos. We got him arrested around 2am while he was fast asleep with other herdsmen in an open space.
“We later moved to Kwara State to arrest the last suspect, Gide. A policeman had pretended that he had a special assignment and he needed a woman and a hotel to stay in, and since Gide was very familiar with the area, he believed he could help out. After dribbling us for three days, he finally showed up and we arrested him.
“We are still searching for the remaining seven suspects, including the one with the police gun which they took at the quarry; and we will get them.”
The Force Public Relations Officer, Donald Awunnah, said investigations were ongoing.