The 42-year-old alleged kidnap kingpin goes by some curious names: Onyekachi (Who is greater than God?) Goodluck Odoemena. His Igbo surname, Odoemena, translated into English means, “May another evil/calamity never happen (to me).”
So? When a young man who himself is the very face of evil or the mention of whose name evokes the very thought of calamity he is praying against, is praying that kind of prayer or making that kind of wish, chances are that he may then have to decide who he thinks the cap of recurring evil or calamity best fits.
May another evil/calamity never happen! But for the suspect, a.k.a. 40:40 and, who, along with his gang members specialise in kidnapping old women and asking for huge ransom thereafter, before releasing them to their relatives, calamity was to happen to them over and over again. It led to the depletion of the number of the gang from the original 19 to about five as at the time they were captured.
They specialize not only in kidnapping old women but also, wait for this, in raping them. In fact, by the time the long arm of the law caught up with them they had already kidnapped and raped about 15 female victims.
List of victims
Among them is 75-year-old woman, Elizabeth Okono, on whose behalf they collected N5 million ransom after taking her to their hideout in Aboh-Mbaise Local Government Area of Imo State. Not too long afterward, he and his gang kidnapped another old woman around Port-Harcourt/Owerri axis.
Three years ago, in 2017, they kidnapped a 90-year-old woman in Port-Harcourt and took her to their hideout at Bonny creek, Port-Harcourt. From there, they negotiated for and collected N3 million ransom which they shared among themselves. In fact, between 2016 and 2017, his gang were said to have kidnapped seven victims, all old women, in various places in Port-Harcourt/Eleme. In one of the cases, the old woman was kept in their custody for five days before being released after her family paid N2m ransom.
Announcing their arrest with obvious relief, the Imo State Commissioner of Police, Mr. Isaac Akinmoyede, told Nigeria daily that the notorious kidnapper and his gang, had for a long time, posed security threat to Imo residents. At a point, he was said to have gone into hiding after kidnapping in 2018, 42-year-old woman called Mrs. Chidinma Ucheagba of Umuedo Obohia Ahiazu Mbaise L.G.A. They kidnapped her while she was in transit, at Amumara, Ezinihitte-Mbaise and took her to their hideout. They then collected millions of naira before releasing her.
On January 3, 2020, the same gang led by one of the members, 32-year-old Stanley Agbakwuruchi Uchenwa, resurfaced to kidnap 50-year-old woman, Ogechi Iyanwa, and kept her in their custody until her relatives paid a ransom of N900, 000. Only then was she released, Akinmoyede said.
How Goodluck ran out of luck
But on June 18, 2020, “Goodluck” Odoemena and his gang members ran out of luck in their criminal career. They suffered a major setback, when Linus Nwaiwu, Superintendent of Police and Commander of the Anti-Kidnapping Squad of the Imo State Police Command, led his operatives to storm their hideout at Otulu Amumara Ezinihitte. They got them arrested, after a long fierce gun-battle. It was a shootout in which Odoemena and Uchenwa sustained injuries from bullets and were subsequently taken to police clinic for treatment.
Nwaiwu who led the operation told Nigeria daily how they spent three days combing their hideout during which time they recovered some women’s clothes, wrappers and two American pump action rifles loaded with 16 round of live ammunition. He also revealed that the gang was planning to kidnap another old woman in Mbaise before police operatives swooped on them and foiled their plan and crushed them.
Giving some insight into his life and mode of operation, Odoemena told Nigeria daily that he started kidnapping operation about five years ago. “We recruited 19 gang members,” he said without bothering to explain why it had to be that number and nothing more and nothing less. “We specialize in kidnapping old women because of our belief that it will facilitate prompt payment of ransom as nobody would want her old woman to die in our custody.”
The suspect who hails from Umulolo Amato Amuzu in Aboh-Mbaise Local Government Area explained further that they operate within Port Harcourt/Owerri/Eleme axes but keep their kidnapped victims in Mbaise.
But calamity echoes and re-echoes in his narrative as he said: “The police operatives in Imo State Command and Rivers State Police Command have killed some of my original gang members. But once a gang member is killed, we recruit another. I had only five gang members with whom we operate together before we were apprehended at our hideout at Otulu. I have already confessed my evil deeds to police operatives.”