By Ben Ekezie
Operatives of Force Intelligence Response Team (FIRT) have arrested 45-year-old, Ndifreke Udo Amos over the abduction of 80-year-old Pa Anthony Umuzor Idornigie who was picked in Lagos State on November 18, 2020 by unknown persons who posed as prospective tenants.
They requested for N20million ransom and several days after negotiating with the family for ransom, his abductors cut off all communication.
Worried for the safety of their father, his family hinted the police through a petition and operatives of FIRT in their Lagos annex office were deployed to investigate and rescue Pa Anthony.
In the course of investigation, Amos, who is a pastor at The Will of God Mission, in Agbado area of Lagos State was arrested when evidence showed that part of the ransom money was paid through his account.
According to our police source, his son who is from Isako West Area of Edo State said that on November 14, 2020 some unknown person visited their house at Almoruf Estate, Phase 2 Lamode, Idoki in Lagos. They pretended as prospective tenants and convinced his father to follow them to a bank.
Hours later, the abductors called their family friend said that they had abducted their father and asked for N20millon ransom.
Several account numbers were given to the family and about N650,000 was distributed to these accounts. The abductors called them again to send N150,000 as they were now ready to release their father. They were told that the family had run out of cash and they decided to stop communicating with the family.
In the course investigation, it was confirmed that one of the accounts that was used to received N350,000 ransom was paid into the account of the pastor. He was tracked down and arrested. It was also discovered that all the credit alert sent to his line by the family of Pa Anthony had the description ‘Ransom money’ attached to it.
Pastor Amos who owns a Point Of Sale (POS) shop told the police that he does not know the identity of the people who paid money into his account. He simply received an alert and withdrew the money for his customer.
Recounting what happened Pastor Amos claimed that by the time he noticed the credit alert description, the customer had already withdrawn the money.
“I am a native of Akwa Ibom State and married with four kids. I am currently a resident pastor at The Will of God Gospel Mission at Agbado Crossing in Lagos. I have served in that church for more than six years. They don’t pay me a fixed salary. The owner of the church gives me allowance and pays my children’s school fees. I also depend on the generosity of members who bless me with food and cash donations.
To help me take care of my other needs the owner of the church gave me N300,000 to start a business and refund him half of it as soon as I am stable. I used the money to open a POS shop and employed a lady. Then I became a commercial motorcyclist but stopped during the COVID 19 outbreak.
I decided to start managing my POS shop because then the business started booming. In November, one guy walked into my shop and showed me N200,000 debit alert. Normally I post my account number in the shop so that it will be easy for them to transfer money even if I am not on ground.
I checked my phone and saw the debit alert and gave him the N200,000. He paid N4000 as the charge fee. I collect N2000 for every N100,000.
Days later, I went to church and my daughter called me that the same guy was at the shop and that he claimed he sent N150,000. She asked me to check if I got any alert. I saw an alert but I did not open the message. I asked my daughter to go ahead and make payment. It was after service that I opened the message and discovered that the description read ransom money. I panicked and the next day, I rushed to the bank and showed them the text message. They advised me to go and report to the nearest police station.
At the police station, they took my statement and asked me to go home. They told me to relax that it is possible that the person who sent that had no criminal intention. I was surprised when police arrested me three months later over that transaction.”
He regretted not doing proper documentation of all transactions on the log book given to him by the bank. “I have learnt a hard lesson. I was told to ensure that I record the names and confirm phones numbers of anyone that does transaction with me especially large amount. I always believed that as a Christian, no evil will ever come my way. I do not know anything about the abduction of the old man and is only God that will save me.”