Chikelue described his family’s encounter with Evans and his gang as a twisted game of hide-and-seek.
The footballer has shared the terrible tale of his father's experience at the hand of the kidnapper and his gang, which led to his death.
Daily Post reports that Chikelue revealed that his father, Pa James Iloenyosi, was kidnapped and murdered by Evans after the family had paid his ransom in the sum of N15 million.
Chikelue described his family’s encounter with Evans and his gang as a twisted game of hide-and-seek.
He said early on November 25, 2013, his father who was 86 at the time, had been on his way back from their local Catholic church when three SUVs double-crossed him and whisked him away.
The football star said that was the last day he was his father alive.
While speaking with Punch, Chikelue, who played professional football in France and Turkey and is also Nollywood actress, Stephanie Okereke-Linus’ ex-husband, said:
“When they took him away, they did not talk to us until after five days. They phoned my twin sister. She was sobbing when she called me that the kidnappers had made contact.
“When we, the children, gathered, my sister called the kidnappers again and they simply told us that they would call back. They did not call back until after another five days just to build our anxiety.”
According to the footballer, the kidnappers reached out to his family demanding a ransom of N50 million, five days after the kidnap.
The family began to plead with the kidnappers for the reduction of the ransom, and after several days of this continued routine, the ransom was reduced to N15 million.
Chikelue said, “When we paid the N15m, my father was already dead and we did not know.
“What made me upset was that despite how seriously we worked to get him back, my father did not come out of it alive.”
He revealed that after paying the ransom, the kidnappers refused to release Pa Iloenyosi, demanding more money from the family.
According to the reports, after a while, they never heard from the kidnappers again.
Punch reports that four months into the investigation, and the involvement of over a hundred policemen in Anambra state, the security agencies finally caught a break when a member of the gang identified simply as Nonso, was arrested along with three others.
Chikelue said that Evans was already a popular criminal well known to the State Anti-Robbery Squad of the Anambra State Police Command, adding that he was a wanted robber known for hitting bullion vans.
“The SARS boss in Anambra told me at the time that any suspect arrested for any major crime always mentioned the name of Evans,” he said.
Chikelue also revealed that the family had to engage the services of a private investigator when there had been no news of their father's whereabout months after paying the ransom.
He also said that a friend of his based in Isreal helped to track his father's phone line, tracing it to a young lady, who said Nonso was her boyfriend.
“When we arrested the girl, she said Nonso only gave her the phone for safe-keeping, instructing her not to put it on. We started tracking Nonso. At a point, the current leader of the IRT, Abba Kyari, gave us 18 of his men to follow us to Cotonou, Benin Republic because our trace on Nonso’s line showed he was there.
“We got there and the police arrested a young man, who said he came to buy a car. He said the number was not his and that he only wanted to use it to call somebody in Nigeria. The police had to let him go when it was clear he knew nothing.
“Later, we left the Cotonou guy. Again, our private tracker traced him to Lokoja, Kogi State, ” he said.
Other members of the gang were said to have relocated there shortly after splitting the ransom money, seeing as security agencies were hot on their trail.
After identifying the hotel the suspect might have been hiding in, Chikelue said, some members of the SARS team in Kogi State moved in to make the arrest.
“I was in Lokoja for two months with a private tracker before we arrested Nonso.
“When we got to the hotel with the police that day, we requested for the list of the people staying at the hotel. The hotel staff mentioned a “small boy” with his girlfriend in one of the rooms.
“We knocked on the door and the girlfriend came out. He said her boyfriend was in the bathroom. But I was hearing a sound inside. He was trying to escape through the window but SARS operatives were already stationed around the hotel.
“He eventually came out and said his name was Emmanuel. But I knew it was him right away because we had been able to obtain his photograph ahead.
“But because I did not want him to panic, I pretended it was not him and told the SARS operatives in his presence that the person we were looking for was an older man.
“He relaxed and was going inside when I called him and said I wanted to ask him something. I dialled his phone number there and then when it rang, we took it and it showed the name ‘Kidnapper football’. The SARS operatives immediately pounced on him and handcuffed him.
“I asked Nonso if he knew me, he said he did not. I told him I was the footballer whose number he saved with that name. He then asked if I was ‘General’ – my alias – and I said yes.
“When Nonso was arrested, he became submissive and pleaded for his life; saying he would provide any information the police needed.
“He immediately told us that his leader was Evans. But he said there was no way we could get Evans because he had fled to Lagos after the completion of the operation. At this point, Nonso kept our hope alive. He said my father was still alive. He refused to give precise information,” Chikelue said
The football star added that he had been very hopeful at that point and believed he was going to get his father back alive.
Nonso was reportedly transported back to Anambra in the company of SARS operatives and later provided the police with Evans’ phone line, with which he was being tracked.
By the time the police got back to Anambra with the suspect, he began to plead not to be taken to SARS headquarters in the state for fear of being tortured to death, insisting that he was willing to give up all the necessary information.
Nonso reportedly disclosed that Evans was always on the move after each operation.
Chikelue said, “We were calling Evans to pinpoint his location but it was all abortive. Nonso was later made to call another member of the gang called Awolowo to inform him that there was an operation.
“But Awolowo said he did not want to do any operation at the time because his wife had just put to bed. Nonso said Awolowo was part of Evans’ Asaba, Delta State group.”
Awolowo and two others were later arrested by the police, however, the suspects reportedly refused to give up any information despite being held for several days.
The police suspected that the silence was owed to an oath they may have taken.
Punch reports that one of the suspects who had been on the verge of confessing, suddenly started to show signs of mental illness.
According to the reports, Nonso's girlfriend who was also arrested refused to give up any information that would implicate him any further.
“The most shocking thing was that when the police interrogated Nonso, he said that if the SARS ever wanted peace in Anambra, they should kill the lady. He said she was the one responsible for taking care of the gang and that she helped them buy drugs and collected ransom on their behalf,” Chikelue said.
Chikelua, however, said that while all these were going on, his only concern had been finding his father’s whereabouts.
One of the days when Chikelue was at the SARS office, he found an unlikely ally in an armed robbery suspect called Onyeso, who was detained there.
Chikelue said, “He pulled me aside and said, ‘My brother, you are a good man because you always give money so that the police could buy us food when you come here’. He said he wanted to give me a privileged information.
“He said if we wanted any result, we should take Awolowo to the backyard and tell the police to shoot their gun in the air as if they had killed him. He said the other one would start confessing because they had indeed taken an oath.
“When the police did this, Nonso started confessing when he was told Awolowo had been killed. He said he would take us to where my father was buried.
“We journeyed into the forest for three and half hours before we got to where they buried him. I broke down and my sister who was there at the time fainted.”
It was revealed that the late Pa Iloenyosi was buried around Nneyi village in Umueri community.
The worst part of the information was the suspicion that the old man might have been starved or beaten to death.
When asked how the old man had died, Nonso blamed his death on those kept in charge of the hideout where Evans had kept the elderly man.
Pa Iloenyosi was said to have been stripped to almost naked and kept in a cold room where he was beaten regularly in order to put his children under pressure.
Chikelue said, “While we were negotiating for ransom, they would call and put the phone on speaker so I could hear how they beat him. My father would cry and beg me to find a way to ensure his freedom.
“We reburied him at our hometown – Abagana in Anambra state – a few days after we found his body and started the search for Evans. One of the vital information Nonso gave us was that they were on their way to a robbery when they got information about my father and they diverted to Abagana to kidnap him.
"So, I was really particular about the arrest of Evans so that he could tell us who in our community gave them the information.”
Chikelue expressed his happiness when he heard of Evans' arrest but became particularly upset when he read of how Evans was begging for his life, using the excuse that he had never killed anyone.
“What Evans did to my family was the most painful thing anybody can experience. When I read he has been begging for sympathy, I just laughed. The death penalty for people like him is the only solution. Evans can never repent despite all the second chance he is begging for.”
This is just another horrid tale amongst many which have emerged since the arrest of the notorious kidnapper.