In the last three months, Gadilo Agbajo, an Arogbo, Ondo State indigene, has been involved in three kidnaps, which netted the gang he led N14.8m in total.
But when Agbajo and eight other members of the gang were brought before journalists at the Lagos State Police Command headquarters following their arrest, the explanation he gave for his life of crime surprised many.
According to Agbajo, whom the gang members said was responsible for sharing the ransom money in the bush anytime the families of their victims paid, he was not a selfish criminal.
Agbajo explained that he used his criminal activities to help his friends.
“When some of my people who did not have job could not pay their house rents, they came to meet me for help.
“I normally told them that they should not worry and that I would find a way to help them and they could help me as well. My way of helping them is getting them involved in the kidnapping business rather than for them to roam the streets without work.”
In July 2016, report learnt that Agbajo’s gang kidnapped a pastor of a parish of the Redeemed Christian Church of God at Santos bus stop in Isawo, Ikorodu, Lagos State, Olukayode Bajomo, on a Sunday morning just before the weekly service.
A witness of the abduction said the kidnappers wore attractive clothes as if they had come for the church service.
The witness said, “The pastor came earlier around 7am to prepare for a workers’ meeting. The shocking thing was that the men walked in quietly like new members.
“They dressed like people who had come to church. They had Bibles with them. They did not shoot or display any weapon. It was when they got to the pastor that they brought out their guns and ordered him to come with them.”
The gang also kidnapped Otunba Lateef Ogunfowora, who owns Lat Ogun Petroleum in Ijebu Ode.
Agbajo said, “When I was introduced to kidnapping by Blessing Bamidele, the first person we kidnapped was a white man. After that, Bamidele always called me anytime he had an operation.
“We later kidnapped a man in Ijebu Ode, one at Epe and another at Gberigbe side. We got N6m from one, N5m from another and N3.8m from the third victim.
“I am not the leader of the group like my other colleagues said. Bamidele Blessing introduced me to the work. I got N1.2m in one.”
The police recovered two AK47 rifles from the suspects along with six magazines, 51 rounds of live ammunition and a set of army uniform.
Agbaso said they got the uniform from his brother-in-law, a soldier, but he said the soldier knew nothing about their operations.
According to them, the guns were usually hidden in a bush after each operation by a member of the gang.
Responding to Agbajo’s allegation that he introduced him to kidnapping, 26-year-old Bamidele, another Arogbo, Ondo State indigene living at Ijebu Ode, said Agbajo was lying.
He said, “I have been living at Ijebu-Ode for one year. Gadilo (Agbajo) introduced me to kidnapping. He led our group and shared every money we made. I got N1.9m from the N6m we made. I was an oil vandal before I became a kidnapper.”
Another member of the gang, Pleasure George, who again said he was an indigene of Arogbo, said they had another boss they rarely saw.
He described him as “OC, the leader of the water group”.
According to him, OC was the one who provided the gang with the guns they used.
George said.“We could not just see him anyhow. He usually came to our area if he wanted to see his wife and that was usually the time we had access to him.
“One day, he sent one of his boys to deliver the guns to us and we started our operations. We only go to him when we take his share of the ransom to him. Out of the N6m we got from one of our last operations, we gave him N1.5m. His share varies according to how much we make.”
The Lagos State Commissioner for Police said investigation was still ongoing and that members of the gang would be charged to court as soon as investigators completed their work.