A Lagos-based lawyer, Chiedu Nweke, has demanded the arrest and prosecution of some officials of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, Enugu State, whom he alleged abducted and robbed him at gunpoint.
PUNCH Metro learnt that the lawyer was abducted by a team of operatives from the NDLEA office at Independence Layout, Enugu.
The armed operatives were reportedly in a white Hilix van and had cornered the lawyer who was walking on the road.
He was allegedly forced into the van and driven to an Automated Teller Machine point on Ogui Road, where N160,000 was allegedly withdrawn from his bank account through his Diamond Bank ATM card.
The victim said when he raised the alarm, a group of policemen on patrol responded.
After being allegedly bribed by the officials, the policemen left.
The lawyer said the operatives left him after demanding additional N50,000 from one Amaechi, a taxi driver who worked for him.
Nweke, who is the Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of Swampsea Construction Limited, said the NDLEA officials stripped him naked and dehumanised him for no just cause.
Narrating his ordeal, he said he had flown from Lagos to Owerri, Imo State, en route to Enugu, where he was to attend some social functions.
He said he had arrived in Enugu around 7.30pm on January 3, 2018 and checked into a hotel on Bisalla Road, Independence Layout, Enugu.
The lawyer said the hotel got him a taxi driver, identified only as Prince, to drive him around the community.
After buying isi ewu (a local dish) from a joint on Lagos Street, Enugu, he said he asked Prince to wait for him while he procured a takeaway pack for the dish.
“When I came out 15 minutes later, he had driven off. I stood in front of the joint, nervous, anxious and stranded. I called the driver, but he said he had gone to buy petrol. I sensed danger. I trekked towards the petrol station at the junction of Lagos Street and Ogui Road to find another transport back to the hotel.
“Then suddenly, a white Toyota Hilux made a U-turn on Ogui Road and stopped in front of the petrol station. Four heavily armed men jumped out of the vehicle in a military fashion, pointing guns at me. There were other people there, but I was singled out.
“Their leader, a dark huge man, ordered that I should be handcuffed. They never asked for my identity or where I was going. Their leader took my wallet from my pocket and my mobile phone. He said I was a drug baron. I replied that I was a senior lawyer. He said I had only N18,000 in my wallet and that the money was too small. He took my ATM cards from my wallet. He asked how much I could raise from the ATM cards, and I replied that as much as the ATM machine could dispense.
“These vicious armed robbers drove me to Zenith Bank on Ogui Road, near New Haven Junction, and stopped. At gunpoint, with their leader on my side and one member of the gang on the other side, I used my Diamond Bank ATM card to withdraw N160,000 in tranches of N20,000 until all my ATM cards stopped dispensing. The time was around 9pm. I believe the bank’s ATM cameras would record me with the armed kidnappers beside me,” he added.
He noted that there was a scuffle between him and the officials when the team leader ordered him back into the van and he resisted.
Nweke said he raised the alarm as the officials stripped him to his briefs.
The noise was said to have caught the attention of some mobile policemen patrolling the area who responded.
“I held on to one of the policemen and asked him to save my life. He promised to accompany me to wherever they were taking me to. The policeman directed the driver to go to Fire Service Station, Ogui. There, we saw a police patrol vehicle with about five policemen.
“A senior police officer looked into the Hilux and asked my kidnappers who they were and their leader nervously jumped down from the van and produced an identity card, the content of which I do not know but which seemed to satisfy the police officer. He asked what I did, but instead of answering, he took the officer aside and whispered to him. He exchanged something with him in the hand. The police officer then directed his men to accompany us to the station,” he added.
Nweke said he was driven to the NDLEA office opposite the Independence Layout Police Station.
He alleged that the leader of the team called the two mobile policemen who accompanied him and handed something to them before they left.
“At this point, I knew my fate was sealed. I was taken to a dark point smelling of human faeces. I was terrified and stooling in my underwear. The leader of the gang was busy answering my phone calls and telling my callers to negotiate my release.
“He warned me not to disclose that I was robbed of any money but to say that I was a drug baron who was arrested. He asked for my wife’s telephone number. He said he was my brother because we were both from Anambra State.”
The lawyer said the officials later negotiated for N50,000 with Amaechi, whom the team leader called with his own phone number.
Nweke said a check through a mobile telephone application, True Caller, showed that the team was led by one Peter Udemgba.
He said the NDLEA officials released him to Amaechi.
Amaechi, in a telephone conversation with PUNCH Metro on Monday confirmed the incident, adding that he had heard about the alleged abduction and checked three police stations to look for him.
He said, “I am his cab driver and I have taken him three different times when he visited Enugu. But the last time he came, I could not take him, so the hotel hired a cab driver for him.
“After checking the police stations without finding him, I called his telephone line and a man picked it. He said how much could I bring, and I told him N50,000. He gave me a location to meet them. I was not afraid to take the risk because I have known the lawyer for a long time that he is not a troublesome person.
“When those people called me back to know where I was, I told them that I was at a branch of GTB and was withdrawing the money they demanded. The caller told me not to bother about the money again, but I should come to another place to take him. That was where I went to pick him.”
PUNCH Metro learnt that the victim had petitioned the Director General, NDLEA, Lagos, and the Commissioner of Police, Enugu State Police Command.
The petition, dated February 19, 2018, was received and acknowledged by the NDLEA on February 20.
Nweke said he had been contacted and invited by the Enugu State Commissioner of Police, Mohammed Danmallam.
He said he declined the invitation because the suspects had yet to be arrested and he was afraid for his life.
The leader of the NDLEA team, who was allegedly involved in the incident, Udemgba, said the agency was a security organisation and he could not speak on the telephone.
Later, he asked that the story be withheld.
The Public Relations Officer, NDLEA, Jonah Achema, said he was not aware of the petition, adding that he would get back after getting the details.
The spokesperson for the Enugu State Police Public Relations Officer, SP Amaraizu Ebere, said he was also not aware of the case.
“Tell him to come and see me if he is in Enugu,” he added.