A mother of three, Chizoba Ogbonna, 36, has been arrested by operatives of the IGP’s Special Intelligence Response Team (IRT) in Abiriba-Ohafia area of Abia State, for staging her own kidnap and demanding a ransom of N2 million from her family.
According to the police, Chizoba had perfected plans to collect the ransom with her boyfriend, one Joseph Ezema, whom she fell in love with soon after she left her husband.
The police traced her to Abiriba in Abia State, where she was hidden in an abandoned house alongside Ezema, and one of his friends Uche Anthony.
Detectives were able to trace her and her two accomplices to their hideout hours after N500,000 was paid into her account by her elder brother. The police said the money was meant to lure the kidnappers out from hiding.
According to police reports, Chizoba sent a WhatsApp message from her phone to her elder brother, pretending to be the kidnapper and demanding for ransom. A photograph appearing to show her lying unconscious and gagged was also sent to confirm it. When her phone was tracked to check her last known location, she was seen walking alone to the bank to pick up the money.
The suspect, who hails from Osisioma in Abia State, according to her Facebook profile, is a graduate of Alvan Ikoku College of Education, Owerri, Imo State.
Chizoba told the police: “I’m a primary school teacher. I left my husband three years ago because I discovered the marriage won’t work. I met Joseph on Facebook in 2018. He told me he was into fashion & designing. We later became lovers.”
She continued: “At a point, we agreed to travel abroad. He told me that he once paid N300,000 to get a US visa which did not work. On March 13, I was on my way to see someone when a vehicle stopped in front of me, I saw six persons inside the vehicle. I don’t know what happened and then I lost consciousness. I later found myself in the home of my boyfriend in Agboju, Abia State. He took my phone and called my sister. He started demanding for ransom. My involvement is that I begged my sister to pay the money or they would kill me. I later sent her my account details and she paid N500,000 into it. Two days after the money was paid into my account, the police came after me; I was arrested alongside my boyfriend.
But Ezema, 30, admitted to a romantic relationship with Chizoba, and that the idea to fake her kidnap was hers. “When I told her that I was planning to travel abroad, she said she would stage her own abduction in order to raise money from her family,” he added.
The police said the trio was arrested based on complaint from Chizoba’s relations who felt genuinely concerned about her abduction.