A breakthrough by detectives has brought a fresh twist to the unfurling saga of captured Nigeria’s billionaire kidnapper, Chukwudumeme Onwuamadike, alias Evans.
Recent discoveries indicated the infamous kidnapper is as much connected to Ghana as he is to Nigeria in his nefarious activities, throwing up a shocking portrait of a transnational criminal.
Latest findings of investigations into the robbery/kidnap kingpin’s crime-ridden life suggest that Evans and his entire family hold dual citizenship of both Nigeria and Ghana, which he made his second home and to which, he normally escaped to hide from the arms of the law, whenever the heat was turned on after his many dare-devil operations.
Searchlight on the crime baron by detectives unearthed four Ghanaian passports belonging to him, his wife and two of their children.
Sleuths waddling through documents found during a search that the man identified by a Nigerian passport (No.A0500083) as Onwuamadike Chukwudumeme Somto, 37, is the same person as Asare Nelson, 39, according to Ghanaian passport (No.G0456327).
His wife, known as Uchenna Precious Onwuamadike to Nigerians, is Precious Asare by her Ghanaian passport.
The Accra Passport Office of Ghana Immigration Service issued the couple’s Ghanaian passports and those of their two children, Sussan and Emmanuel Asare.
How they acquired Ghana passports
The big question is: How did the family procure the foreign passports?
Saturday Sun learnt that although the issuance of Ghanaian passport is also porous and susceptible to corruption and touting like Nigeria’s, the strict enforcement of criminal justice system in the West African country discourages many Ghanaians and Immigration officials from indulging in the practice.
This, however, does not stop some from taking the risk.
On a typical day, the passport office located at Ridge, a stone throw from Ghana Parliament and near Ghana Institute of Journalism (GIJ), is a beehive, brimming with passport applicants and others wishing to have the traveling documents renewed or reissued. Mingling with this crowd, of course, are also touts.
The newspaper gathered that a regular Ghanaian passport officially costs GHc50, while those who wish to expedite the process pay GHc100.
But, there are under dealings, which make it easy for a non-Ghanaian to obtain one, as long as he is prepared to pay the exorbitant unofficial fee, a source told Saturday Sun.
Said he: “You pay Goro boys GHc1000 and you get it in a week.” Goro boys refer to the swarm of touts who hang outside the passport office.
The source explains that ordinarily: “You have to go to the passport office for your biometrics, because your picture has to be captured via camera, not scanned passport. But there is nothing to fear, as the go-between would have greased the palms of those in charge.”
Evans probably acquired the passport for himself and his family this dubious way. Paying GHc1000 (about N85, 000 by the current exchange rate) per passport would be no big deal for a man like the notorious criminal, who rakes in $1m from a single kidnap operation.
The smart crook that he is, Evans, in choosing nomenclatures avoided the generic day names––such as Kofi, Kojo, Kwabena Kwesi or Kwame, which are common to some nationals of Cote D’Ivoire and Togo and could deny the family the much prized Caanadian visa that he sought. Instead, he opted for Asare, an Akan name common to Southwestern part of Ghana, which, therefore, could raise no suspicion as to the genuineness of his family’s Ghanaian roots. With the name he could pass for an Ashanti, Akyem or a Fante.
Mrs. Evans’ basket of lies
The next big question borders on the role of his wife.
Mrs. Evans has fervently denied having any knowledge of her husband’s nefarious activities. The 31-year-old earlier in a telephone conversation with a Nigerian newspaper denied having any inkling of her husband’s kidnapping business, insisting that Evans dealt in spare parts and haulage business and that the reason for their relocation to Ghana was for their children to have good education.
But, her assertions fell flat in the face of fresh and emerging facts, giving the public a portrait of her as a consummate liar, after her cameo weepy appearance on social media with her children.
It also confirmed both husband and wife as a “Bony and Clyde” couple.
For instance, her passport and those of her two children were issued in 2010, three years before her husband got his. For a woman who claimed to be oblivious of her husband’s activities, she had no qualms swapping her Nigerian identity for Precious Asare, travelling with the Ghanaian passport in preparation to migrate to Canada with a purported Ghanaian identity.
In retrospect, observers note, the family’s choice of Ghana as sanctuary made sense and easily connects the dots, as it offers greater possibility of easily transiting to other countries and avoiding any of Nigeria’s ports, where the head could essily be apprehended.
Recall that after a 2013 kidnap operation in Benin City, that turned the heat against him, Evans ceased flying through Nigerian airports. All his subsequent trips by flight were made using his Ghanaian passports and through Ghana’s airport.
Also, adopting Ghana as second home eases the possibility of securing visa to Canada, which appears to be their choice destination. Canada’s High Commission in Accra issues visa for a host of West African countries including Nigeria. Considering that they eventually got the Canadian visas, it is easy to conclude that they would have emigrated to the North American country, a security source said.
The next chapter
Probing Evans is like unfurling an onion bulb. The layers of leaves keep revealing more layers. Bits and pieces of fresh facts and clues emerge everyday as the police continue to follow the spoor and dig deeper to unravel the numerous mysteries of the decade-long criminal career of Evans. So far, it is a case of “the more you look, the more you see.” If he continues to sing like the canary, the public can keep their fingers crossed for the next episode in the unveiling soap opera. They should also, of course, expect the unexpected.