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Thursday, June 13, 2024

‘I responded to Facebook job post and only managed to escape death as ‘recruiters’ turned out to be kidnap-for-ransom squad!’

In recent years, Nigeria has witnessed a disturbing trend known as “one chance” kidnappings, where criminals disguise as genuine commercial transport operators or recruiters to deceive unsuspecting victims.

These criminals often employ deceitful tactics to lure victims into seemingly harmless situations before carrying out their criminal activities, such as kidnapping and extortion.

Today, Iya Magazine shares the story of a young lady who survived the “one chance” kidnappers.

“My name is Tee [pseudonym]. I reside in Abuja. For a very long time, I have been hearing stories of kidnappers and ‘one chance’ criminals, but I never knew that I would become a victim.

How did it happen? Last month, I received a message on Facebook from a stranger. He asked me if I was interested in working as an usher at an event that would last for two days. He also said that the company was willing to pay N25,000 for the first day and N15,000 for the second day.

Working as an usher at events is something I do as a side hustle. So, I accepted the offer because I was broke and needed to earn some cash.

When I asked for further details, he sent me the address. According to him, the event was scheduled for 8 p.m., and he asked me to wear a black gown with heels or sandals. He also asked me to take a picture of my dress and send it to him so he would recognize me when I came, and I did just that.

On the day of the event, I left my house, thinking I was going to work and earn some money. The guy asked me to stop at Zuba. According to him, there was a bus that went to pick up some people in Suleja, and the driver was supposed to pick me up at Zuba.

I got there a few minutes before 7 p.m., and I started calling him, but he wasn’t picking up the call. A few minutes later, he sent me a text message saying that he was very busy and would get back to me.

 I received a message on Facebook from a stranger who asked me if I was interested in working as an usher at an event

After waiting for one hour, he called me back and said, “I’m so sorry for the delay. Please, you have to find your way to the venue because the bus has already passed Zuba.”

After he hung up, he sent me a message not to stop at the initial address he had given to me because it was already getting late. He then directed me to come to another gate. So when I got there, I called him, and he said he would send one of his security guards to pick me up.

He kept me waiting for another hour. When I got tired, I decided to leave. While I was walking back, I heard someone call out my name. When I looked back, I saw a dirty-looking guy who claimed to be the security man that was sent to pick me up.

I ignorantly followed him, and we kept walking to an unknown destination. At a point, I wasn’t comfortable because it was already getting late and the area was dark. So I stopped following him and told him that I had to go back home.

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Immediately after I said that, he slapped me, collected my phone, and dragged me to a hidden path. Then he called out his partner in crime, and when that one came, they tore my clothes and collected my bag. They took all the money they saw inside the bag and also forced me to transfer money into their account using their POS machine.

Since the amount they got was not enough, they asked me to start calling my siblings to send them money; otherwise, they would kill me. At that point, I said,

‘Please, I’m the breadwinner of my family. None of my siblings have money, so calling them is a waste of time.” They weren’t even interested in what I was saying. So they kept threatening to kill me, and I was just begging and crying.

They took all the money they saw inside the bag and also forced me to transfer money into their account using their POS machine

At a point, I asked them how much they needed, and they said N200,000–N250,000. So I told them I had jewelry that was worth N500,000-N600,000. After I gave them the jewelry, they flashed their torchlight on it and said, “You sure say this jewelry na pure gold?”
‘Yes, I’m sure!” I responded with a shaky voice.

“Shebi you say you be poor girl; who give you money to buy gold?” They asked.

‘Abeg, I no buy am oo. I thief am.’ I responded.

Since I had nothing else to offer them, I had to tell them a lie to convince them that the jewelry was really worth a fortune. I even told them where they could sell it in Wuse. Fortunately, they believed me and accepted to let me go.

So while I was rejoicing that the nightmare was about to come to an end, one of them said,

‘Abi we no go knack this babe? She fresh wella o.’ When I heard that they wanted to sleep with me, I started shouting and begging all over again.

Oh no! I cried a river, yet one of them still raped me while the other one held me firmly.
When they were satisfied, they asked me to swear that I would not contact the police, which I did. So they gave me N150 to go back home. I left there a few minutes before midnight.

As I walked through that lonely path, trying to find my way back home, many thoughts kept running through my mind. The first person I saw was a motorcyclist, and he was very shocked to see me. He carried me to a place where I boarded a tricycle that was going to the Dei-Dei junction. He also gave me N500 for the transportation fare.

When I got to the junction, I met some policemen, and when they saw that I was walking barefooted and my clothes were torn, they said, “Where is this one coming from? She don run mad abi Yahoo boys don use am?”

It’s been one month since that incident, but I have not recovered from the shock

Although I was very weak, when I saw them, I felt a bit relieved and started narrating what happened to me. The policemen said that they were aware that hoodlums stay at that location at night. When I told them to follow me to the place to arrest the criminals, they declined. According to them, they couldn’t leave their duty post at that moment.

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My whole body was trembling. They offered me water and food, but I couldn’t even eat anything. They also told me that I should sleep in their van till morning because it was dangerous to be outside by that time of the night. I accepted, and throughout the night I couldn’t even sleep. I was just crying.

“Why did this happen to me? What was my offense? Where did I make a mistake? Was I charmed? Why didn’t I see the red flags on time?” Those were the questions I was asking myself.

At 6 a.m., one of the policemen gave me N1,000 and took me to where I boarded a vehicle to my residence.

It’s been one month since that incident, but I have not recovered from the shock. And what hurts me the most is that those perpetrators are still on the streets, luring more victims with different tactics.”

Understanding and addressing this issue of “one chance” is crucial for the safety and well-being of individuals who navigate their daily activities in Nigeria.

To stop this kidnapping trend, we need to do a few things: make sure our surroundings are safe with better security, understand and fix the reasons why kidnapping happens (like poverty or lack of education) and make sure the police and legal system work well to arrest and punish the perpetrators.

what hurts me the most is that those perpetrators are still on the loose, luring more victims

As an individual, constant vigilance is paramount. Before using public transportation, always verify that they are registered transport services. Given the prevalence of kidnappers posing as employers, it’s crucial to verify job opportunities by researching through official websites, reviews, and reliable sources before attending interviews or engagements.

If your research and instincts advise against it, trust that intuition. Additionally, staying prayerful is important as we navigate these challenges.

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