The Oyo State Police Command, on Monday, paraded seven suspects in connection with the abduction of two-year-old twins of a popular Islamic cleric, Alhaj Taofeek Azeez, aka Akewugbagold.
The police said investigation revealed that the suspected kidnappers, who invaded the Ibadan residence of the cleric on April 25, 2020, included a couple and two close associates of Akewugbagold.
Those arrested include Rildwan Taiwo, 30; Olumide Ajala, 36; Fatai Akanji, 39; Mutiu Rafiu, 35; and his wife Modinat, 29.
Two aides of the cleric, Bashiru Mohammed,33; and Opeyemi Oyeleye, 25, were also apprehended.
During their parade on Monday, the Commissioner of Police in the state, Shina Olukolu, said investigation carried out in Oyo, Adamawa and Sokoto states led to the arrest of members of the syndicate.
Items recovered from the suspected kidnappers included part of the ransom they allegedly collected from Akewugbagold, a locally-fabricated gun, some bullets, two Micra cabs and a motorcycle.
Olukolu said, “Sequel to the last press briefing held on May 13, during which the command showcased the arrest of some notorious kidnappers, armed robbers/criminal receivers, impersonators and murderers/cultists terrorising the state, concerted efforts by the command with the support of the people of Oyo State continue to yield good results.
“In the sensational case of the kidnapping of the two-year-old twins of Alhaji Taofeek Azeez Akewugbagold on April 25, all the suspects have been arrested with substantial part of the ransom collected; the gun used for the operation, the two operational vehicles and one motorcycle recovered from them.
“On April 25 around 8pm, a report was received at the Ojoo Divisional Police Headquarters, Ibadan, that some armed robbers cum members of a kidnapping syndicate terrorising the public within the Ibadan metropolis and other parts of Oyo State invaded the residence of Alhaji Taofeek Azeez Akewugbagold on Alphonso Road, behind the PHCN office, Sasa Area, Ojoo, Ibadan, with guns, cutlasses and other weapons.
“The notorious criminals attacked Akewugbagold’s wife and subsequently abducted his two-year-old twins to an unknown destination. The assailants later demanded ransom of N50m before the two children would be released.
“Concerted efforts were made to rescue the abducted babies and arrest the perpetrators of the heinous crime. The abducted babies were released unhurt eight days after with their father parting with the sum of N4m.
“One locally-made cut-to-size single-barrelled gun, eight live cartridges, one Nissan Micra car with number plate JJJ 703 BJ, another Nissan Micra car with number plate NRK 864 YR, the sum of N2,863,000, being part of the ransom and an unregistered TVS motorcycle were recovered from the hoodlums.”
The female member of the gang, Modinat, who was detailed to take care of the kidnapped children while in captivity, said she was Mutiu Rafiu’s wife.
“Although I am the only wife, when my husband and the others brought the twins to our house, I thought they were brought from my husband’s mistress,” she stated.
Akewugbagold’s aides, alleged that they mooted the idea because they were broke.
The cleric, however, said, “I pay them salaries regularly and they always receive gifts whenever we go for lectures. This is a result of greed.”