COUPLE arrested 16 months after abducting INFANT in Lagos
For awhile, the media had displayed pictures of the missing baby and his nanny, who was assumed to have connived with the kidnappers.
Sixteen months after, the identity of the nanny has been unravelled. She is Patricia Nwangwu (nee Demordzi), 23, a Ghanaian and wife of her accomplice, Emmanuel Nwangwu, 39. The latter is a native of Enugu State.
The woman and her husband were recently arrested in Abuja by a team of policemen attached to the Special Anti-Robbery Squad, Ikeja, Lagos, for their alleged role in the disappearance of the infant.
CRIME DIGEST learnt that Patricia was initially a quiet and reticent girl. She hardly looked like a cold hearted nanny who would kidnap a baby left in her care, let alone do so for pecuniary reasons.
The couple had met at Teshigua Estate in Accra in 2001. At that time, Nwangwu was on the run from the police in Awka, Anambra State, and Apapa, Lagos State, respectively. A relationship with his then fiancée in Enugu had ended badly with the girl nursing wounds that he had inflicted on her with a machete. Nwangwu had fled Enugu after leaving a note on his desk for his employers, the National Orientation Agency, where he had worked as a driver.
Shortly after he arrived in Lagos, Nwangwu secured a job as a security guard at Apapa. Within a month of his employment, he allegedly stole N750,000 and fled to Ghana, where he met Patricia, who was just 12 years old at the time and living with her family.
But in 2008, they were married in Ghana.
Nwangwu settled in Accra and earned a living as a taxi driver. “I had no other source of livelihood and I depended on the money that I stole. When the money finished, I sold off the car so I could have money to eat,” he said.
In 2005, he had returned to Lagos to steal again.
He said, “Even after stealing from two employers, I was still in 2005 able to get another job as a personal driver to one John Bede. I used a job agency at Ikoyi; on the guarantors’ forms, I filled fake names, addresses and my own phone numbers.
“All the agencies I used throughout never checked out the addresses. All they did was to call the numbers on the forms and I would pick the calls. I would go to photo studios and appeal to the photographers to show me sample photos of men in suits. I wanted to know how to dress for an interview.
“Whenever the sample photos were shown to me, I would steal some and use the pictures of the persons as my guarantors.”
For two months, Nwangwu drove his new employer patiently around Lagos. All the while, he gained his master’s trust and waited for an opportunity.
One night, while passing through the Motorways route to Ikoyi, Bede asked Nwangwu to stop outside a club where his friend was waiting.
As soon as Bede stepped out of the car, Nwangwu made away with the sum of N350,000, which his boss had left behind in the car. He then returned to Ghana.
The following year, he was back in Lagos. Within a month, he had stolen N600,000. But Nwangwu changed his methods after marrying Patricia in 2008. He told his new bride they would have to kidnap little children. They would be employed as driver and nanny, respectively, and dump the jobs after kidnapping their employers’ children.
“In Ghana, I met some criminals who specialised in internet fraud. Sometimes, they brought me in on their deals and paid me for my role. That was how I was able to survive without an income till 2008 when I decided that I needed to go into kidnapping,” Nwangwu said.
The couple came to Lagos and rented a one-bedroom apartment. Within two weeks, Nwangwu had secured a job as a driver to his first victim, a man simply known as Coker, who turned out to be his nemesis.
Nwangwu recalled, “The Cokers lived in Ikoyi. I noticed that they had many cars in their home and two children. While I worked, I watched for an opportunity. On the last day of the school term, I decided to strike. I had earlier asked the housemaid to recommend a bathing soap that would help me get rid of some rashes. She offered to me help me buy one. Then I told her she could do so on the way from the child’s school because the maid always went with me to pick her up from school and she agreed.
“On our way back, I parked across the road from a supermarket and gave the maid N3,500 to buy the soap. Immediately she entered the super mart, I drove away, parked the car at a nearby club at Ikoyi and chartered a taxi to Mile 2. Patricia was already waiting for me at Mile 2. We chartered another cab to Ghana and called Coker’s wife, asking for a ransom. We settled for N22m to be transferred to my bank account in Ghana. That day was a Friday and so we had to keep the girl till the next Monday when we would receive the money.”
By Monday, the Cokers had boarded a flight to Ghana after paying the ransom. Immediately Nwangwu’s contact at the bank had confirmed the transfer, Nwangwu took his victim to a popular hotel in Accra and left the child with the receptionist under the pretext that his brother would be coming for the child. A call was put to the Cokers directing them to the hotel where they eventually found their two-year-old daughter.
The Lagos State Commissioner of Police, Mr. Umaru Manko, told CRIME DIGEST that Coker was instrumental in the arrest of the couple. He said, “It was Coker’s sole effort that enabled the SARS to track down Nwangwu after many years. When I received Coker’s petition, I directed the Officer in Charge of SARS, Abba Kyari, to take over the investigation.
“After regaining custody of his child, Coker had immediately liaised with all network providers who began tracking Nwangwu through his phone because Nwangwu, after every kidnap, would immediately destroy his sim card. Coker financed the entire operation.
“It was a difficult investigation because in 2009 after a N12m ransom exchange with another victim went awry and Nwangwu was declared wanted in Ghana, he relocated to Sierra Leone. It was from Sierra Leone that Nwangwu sneaked back into Nigeria and in February 2011 with Patricia’s help, kidnapped the then 11-month-old Odegbaike from his Magodo residence. Unlike his two previous victims who had to make the trip to Ghana to get their children, Odegbaike’s parents had to go to Cotonou to get him after a ransom of N2.2m was paid.
“The first breakthrough came when Nwangwu got a job with one of Coker’s colleagues at Lekki, who asked to take Nwangwu’s picture after she had agreed to employ him. Because she knew of Coker’s experience, the lady was cautious. When she sent the picture to Coker, he confirmed Nwangwu’s identity. Nwangwu by then had fled Lekki with the excuse that he needed to make copies of his guarantor’s form. Sensing that Lagos was now unsafe, Nwangwu escaped to Cotonou with his wife and newly delivered baby girl.”
After five months, the couple once again returned to Nigeria early in 2012, this time to Abuja to begin the kidnap cycle. Unfortunately for Nwangwu, he was sent to work for a retired brigadier-general whose children were all grown up.
By this time, financial challenges had forced Nwangwu to become careless. He was still using the same sim card he had filled on his employment form with Coker’s colleague. On April 21, 2012, when Nwangwu reported for duty at his employer’s home at Gwarinpa Estate, he saw two plain clothes men walk into the house to see the retired brigadier-general.
“While I worked at my job, I was uncomfortable because I knew I couldn’t do anything to my new employer, him being a security official. I had already begun pressurising the job agency to find me another job. It was during this waiting period that two policemen from SARS came to visit my boss. Immediately I saw them talking to him and showing him some documents, I knew they had come for me,” he said.
Now in police custody in Ikeja, a remorseful Patricia wished she had been able to make her husband stop stealing. She said, “My only regret is that I never dissuaded him when I learned of his fraudulent activities. I just went along with all his plans.”
The case would soon be charged to court.