How gospel music minister became a kidnapper

2015-03-27
NEW TELEGRAPH

Mr. Edet Ekuno is a 32-year-old gospel music minister. He said he is a household name in Nigeria. He is one of four men arrested for kidnapping by detectives from the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), Ikeja, Lagos State. He said he had performed in many churches and was sought after by many ministers. Christians listened to his songs and often broke down weeping, with many surrendering to the call of salvation. Yet, this pianist and saxophonist left the path of righteousness, to dine with the devil. In this chat with VIVIAN OSHILE and GBEMISOLA OYEDEPO, Ekuno gives further insight into his life
What’s your educational background?
I’m a school certificate holder. I attended Methodist Primary and Secondary School in Okobo Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State. I didn’t go to any higher institution.
What about your parents?
What do you want to know about them? My parents are dead. They died in 1999.
You said you’re a devoted Christian?
What do you mean? Yes! I’m a devoted Christian.
Well, I was born again before now. You said you’re a choir minister.
In which church? Yes, I’m a music minister. But I don’t belong to a particular congregation. I only go to minister with songs in churches. I’ve played for many Apostolic Churches in Lagos. Most times, churches invite me to come and play for them.
What kind of instrument do you play?
I play keyboard and saxophone. I didn’t learn them. I’m just naturally talented. It’s a gift from God; I will say it’s a talent for me to know how to play keyboard and saxophone.
How much do you charge in a church?
I don’t charge money. I play in churches to glorify God. If any church invites me to play and gives me money, I’ll never go there again. If a church invites me and say they would pay, I won’t bother to go.
I’ll stay at home. I can’t tie myself to a particular church.
How many kidnapping operation have you done?
I’ve not been involved in any kidnapping ope it has always been failed attempts. I said failed because there had never been a successful kidnapping operation I carried out.
What about the kidnapping you carried out with your gang before SARS arrested you?
Yes, that was an attempt too! But it failed too. I don’t want to say I was caught in the act, but the truth is that I was caught in the act. I knew about the operation. We, however, had not embarked on it.
The guys that were involved in the operation had not left the hotel before police stormed their hotel room and arrested them. So, we never even went for the operation.
Why did a minister of God like you decide to go into kidnaping?
Honestly, I just can’t explain it! Ah! You have to explain.
Didn’t you think twice before joining kidnappers?
My dear, that’s what I’ve been telling you. If I say I can’t explain… if you’re a Christian, you’d understand.
Are you saying it’s the handiwork of the devil?
I’ve watched several television programmes, where suspected criminals used to say, ‘na devil push me into it,’ but I don’t believe in such nonsense! That’s why I said I can’t really explain what came over me, to make me get myself entangled in this mess.
Do you know in some state kidnappers are likely to be sentenced to death?
Honestly, when I got into this, I never thought of the impact in my life or the consequence of what it would lead me into.
You were just after what you could get?
It was just an attempt and it didn’t even work!
If you die today, do you think you’ll go to heaven?
Well, like I told the police, this confession is not for the press or police, but to my God. I’m saying all this, so that people wouldn’t think I’m scared or anything. I saw the arrest coming. There’s nothing that was going to happen to me that God wouldn’t reveal to me in a dream.
I saw it coming and if I had wanted to run away, I would have done that! I’m good taking the pains. I’m good carrying the cross of what I have done.
What are you saying?
What I’m saying is this is the way God wants to humble me for doing what was not expected of me.
I’ll go with whatever God wants to do to me.
Do you think you’ll go to heaven?
Going to heaven is a thing of the mind. It’s your mindset with God. If you’re a sinner and repent at the dying minute, there’s every possibility that you’ll go to heaven. God will forgive you.
When you are going for operation do you pray for God to help you?
I have never been or gone for any operation. You can go and ask the police. I stated that in my statement. I’ve never gone on any operation.
But you said that you’ve gone for operation, but it failed?
I never said that! Listen to what I said and what I’m saying. You’re making it sound like there are many operations. Please listen to me. Maybe you need to start the recording all I wouldn’t mind repeating everything again. Listen, the first attempt was in 2012.
I only gave information that could have led to kidnapping. Unfortunately, the attempt failed.
Did you get paid for giving such information?
I didn’t get paid! Listen, when I first gave the information, I never really thought about what I was going it. I never thought I would go deep into it.
The role I played was passive.
You used to pass information to other kidnappers?
No! I meant the role I played was passive. I never really thought I was going to be deep into it. Are you saying since 2012 that you started this, you’ve never kidnapped anyone? L between 2012 and 2015, it’s just about 24 months.
How many guns does your gang use during operation?
I’ve never held a gun in my life!
Are you saying you’ve not seen guns with your gang members?
True and truly speaking, I don’t know those guys! This is the same thing I told the police. I don’t know those guys!
So who do you pass information on kidnapping to?
I don’t give information to anyone, but there’s a guy that used to act as the link, connection between us.
You said you’ve never gone on operation, but only give information on kidnapping.
Who is the person you used to give such information to? You mean the person I used to give information to?
Yes, who is that man?
Well, he’s a man living around my area.
What’s his name?
I don’t know his name!
Where and how did you meet him?
(Laughs) It’s in my area.
How can someone live in your area and you give him information and yet you don’t know his name. Where is that your area?
Golden Estate, Ajah.
Badore area.
What’s his name please?
I just don’t know! Go and ask the Police, they can confirm this. I don’t know him. It was only when we met that I happened to know exactly where he works.
Ekuno and other suspected kidnappers How can you say you don’t know him?
Honestly, that’s the truth! Like I said earlier, whatever I say here is going to be a confession between me and my God.
What is your message to people who wants to join kidnaping?
First of all, I have a message for myself ! The message is a confession to my God: that I’m back as a prodigal son. He should take me back. I pray that whoever wants to engage in kidnapping, whether taking passive or active role, should remember there’s God!
You said you used to go and sing in different churches, what’s your message to them?
What kind of message? You mean message to the church?
Okay, I ask the pastors of the churches to forgive me.
What is your message to the people you’ve kidnapped?
I’ve not kidnapped before! What about people kidnapped after you gave information to your gang?
I’ve asked for their forgiveness.
Where does the gang keep itsvictims?
In an abandoned building at A not an uncompleted one.
What’s the address?
The area doesn’t have an address
Who found it for the gang?
I did.
But you just told us you only used to pass information to the gang?
Not used to…I did it only once. That was in 2012. But in this one that led to my arrest, the gang just called me.
What was your share of the money in the kidnap you gave information?
In the first information I gave, I was given N20,000.
You said you are an estate manager, do you think kidnaping is better? Any true and legal profession should be better than a life of crime.

 

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