April 18, 2015 – “I Gave The Orekoya Kids Sleeping Pills” – Funmilayo Adeyemi, Nanny Turned Kidnapper Narrates How Her Babies Father Tricked Her
More details have emerged on the activities of Funmilayo Adeyemi, the notorious nanny who was arrested Wednesday night by operatives of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad, Lagos police command. Under the guise of being a nanny, Funmilayo confessed to the police that she had successfully kidnapped several children. This, she did with the help of her entire family including her husband, Rasheed Kareem, her brother-in-law, Hakeem Kareem and her mother-in-law.
The mother of four and aged 35 was declared wanted when the news of the kidnap of the Orekoya three kids by their nanny hit the media. The story was that Funmilayo, who claimed that her name was Mary Akinloye, was recruited through a popular online platform. She disappeared with the kids on April 10, barely 24 hours after she resumed work at the Orekoya family residence in Surulere.
The kidnap syndicate initially demanded N15 million from the Orekoyas, a ransom that was later negotiated to N13 million out of which N2 million was paid into a given bank account to bait the suspects. The children identified as Demola, 6, Adedamola, 4, and Aderomola, 11months, were later found naked in an uncompleted building last Tuesday night after nine days.
As soon as the Orekoya’s kids were taken, the news was all over the social media, while the family reported the matter at the nearest police station. Funmilayo and her gang contacted the family and demanded N15 million ransom.
Not happy that the Itire police station didn’t act promptly when they got the first complaint on the incident, the state Commissioner of Police, Kayode Aderanti ordered that the case be transferred to the state command. A team of SARS detectives led by Abba Kyari swung into action and traced the criminals to their hideout in Shasha, Akowonjo area of Lagos. As soon as the kids were released Tuesday night, detectives stormed the hotel where Funmilayo and her maid were moved to by her husband and arrested her while they were busy plotting how to escape from Lagos. Though three other gang members escaped and are still at large, Funmilayo was not as lucky.
Saturday Sun gathered that out of the ransom money paid into a bank account, the kidnappers were only able to withdraw about N400,000 using ATM before the bank placed it on red alert.
Just like every hardened criminal, Funmilayo went on the defensive after her arrest. She lied that she was the only one that was involved in the act. She told the police that the Orekoya children were her first attempt and that as soon as she saw Mrs. Orekoya crying on TV, she decided to go and dump the children. She also lied that although money had been paid, she did not collect a dime from the bank. After hours of interrogation, she stood her ground insisting that she is truly a nanny and very much single and searching. She lied that the three bedroom flat in which she was living was a gift from her brothers. She also lied that on Monday morning, she was moved to return the kids. She simply called an okada man, asked him to drop the children at Idimu under bridge. She claimed she paid him N2000 and asked him to drop them there and that their mother was waiting to pick them.
Hoping to draw sympathy, she told the police that she only had twins who are less than two years old and that the man who impregnated her disappeared. She was left with the twins and needed money to survive. It was through the social media that she learnt the possibility of kidnapping children and demanding a ransom. She swore that she was not the one who arranged the December 2014 kidnap of two kids: Raphael and Michael Esharegaran in Magodo area of the state but that she was only inspired by their kidnap story.
Unknown to her, her maid who was also detained had told the police the entire story. The maid’s version was that Funmilayo has four children for a man who claims to be her husband and father of her four children. She also said that her brother-in-law and another elderly woman were part of the gang. The girl told the police that it was Funmilayo’s duty to bring in the children and that she has brought several children who were always released days after. Funmilayo’s maid claimed that whenever those children were brought home, she normally assumes that they are family friends but it remains strange that the kids will be locked in a room all though their stay. She also said that for the times she was granted access to that room, the kids were always in a deep sleep.
Saturday Sun gathered that as soon as Funmilayo realised that her maid whom she thought was immediately released was very much around, she changed her confession. She then admitted that her husband, Rasheed and brother in-law, Hakeem Kareem were the masterminds of the kidnap of several children that they abducted. She also admitted that her mother-in-law was aware of what was happening and treated her as a loyal daughter-in-law.
How it all started
In police custody, during an interview session with Saturday Sun correspondent, Funmilayo, who is ready to bare it all, claimed that it was her relationship with the family of the father of her children that landed her into crime.
“I am a graduate of Osun polytechnic and I have a Diploma in Survey. After my studies, I got a job as a receptionist in Osun State, it was there that I met Rasheed Kareem and we became friends. I was worried that at the age of 27, I was yet to get married. Luckily, I got pregnant for him and he accepted responsibility for the child. He introduced me to his family and they accepted me. He also promised that as soon as his finance improves, that he would marry me in church. Since I knew that he would finally become my husband, I had three other kids making them four.”
Determined to be called Mrs. Kareem, Funmilayo said she did not bother to ask what her husband’s real business was. “I knew that there was something wrong about him but I needed to marry as I was not getting younger. I knew that if I complained, I would lose him to other women. This was why when my brother-in-law came up with the idea that they wanted me to help them kidnap children, I accepted. I accepted because since I am a mother, I will ensure that all the children kidnapped were well taken care of.”
According to Funmilayo, her husband and brother-in-law, Hakeem had the duty of sourcing for possible targets. “They gave me different names, including Mary Akinloye. All I know is that as soon as they get anyone, I will be the one to make the call and follow it up. This was how they contacted the Esharegaran family in Magodo and several others including the Orekoya family.
I will paint a picture of a poor lady who was looking for nanny job. I will demand to know the kind of accommodation. Even when I go to their houses, my husband and in-law will follow me to assess the environment. If there is any need for a guarantor, my mother-in-law will be handy to pose as my mother who lives in Ikorodu.
Everybody in that family was involved, so it was very easy to co-ordinate. If it is not good, I will call and give one excuse why am not interested in the job. The one at Magodo was a good one.”
On the kidnap of Raphael and Michael Esharegaran, she said: “My brother-in-law called that there is a family who needs a maid. I called the family and we met at an eatery in Magodo. The woman was pleased because I am a Yoruba woman who can teach their children the language.
Few days after I resumed work at their house in Magodo, I took the two children, Raphael and Michael, entered a bus and moved to our house at Ajah. Few days later, we moved them to a hotel in Sagamu.”
When asked how she managed to control the children, Funmilayo said that she gave them sleeping tablets all through the period of abduction. “They were crying and if I do not control them, the hotel management might suspect that I am not their mother. Four days later, I was told by my husband that the family had paid N2.5 million and that I should start going home. They gave me N30,000 and assured me that the rest will be used to rent a new house for the family. Apart from the sleeping drugs, the children were well kept.” As promised, Funmilayo’s husband rented a house at Coker estate in Shasha area of Lagos.
After the successful Magodo deal, Funmilayo claimed that they stopped since there was enough money in the family. “On April 4, 2015, Hakeem called me that so many people are advertising for house maid.
I told him that I am not interested and he reminded me again that the fortune of the family was dwindling. He threatened to report our past deals to the police if I do not join them. I agreed and about four persons that we called did not meet up with our standard. One claims that she lives in Ikotun in a mini flat and was offering N10,000 as salary. The other one lives in Festac and also offered the same thing. The fifth person was the Orekoya family and they offered to pay N15,000.
To show them that I am poor, I cut the line when we were talking on the phone with the excuse that I do not have money to buy recharge card. They called back and we arranged a meeting. The meeting took place in Ikorodu and my in-law who also came around was able to assess them.
They had enough space and was ready to accommodate me. They desperately needed a nanny, so I was asked to resume work immediately while they confirm my guarantors. And my guarantors are normally my husband and mother-in-law who are part of the deal.”
Hoping that their kids where safe with her, the family went to work after putting her through on what was expected of her. “I called my husband that the coast was clear and they asked me to bring them along. We boarded a bus to Egbeda and later got Keke Marwa (tricycle) which took us straight to the house. My brother-in-law, Hakeem came out and paid the driver.”
She claimed that the children felt at home with her. “They were young, so it was very easy to pamper them. I gave them good food because it was a big project. Once in a while I would give them sleeping tablet especially the smallest who later developed cough. It was easy for my children to go inside the room and play with them, but they were not allowed to leave the house. My mother-in-law, brother-in-law, husband and maid were available to help me take care of them. Most of the time they were sleeping because of the sleeping tablet that I normally put in their food.”
She explained that it was her brother-in-law and husband that do the negotiation on ransom most of the time. “My duty was to bring the children and take care of them till ransom is paid. The Orekoya case gave us so much trouble because it was always in the news. When I saw the woman crying on TV, I pleaded with my husband to release those children but he insisted that the husband was stubborn.
“Last Monday, they came in and said that we are leaving the house as police was already aware that the kids were in our house. They moved my kids while we relocated to another place around Shasha.
They later came back on Tuesday, saying that they have paid and that it was time to drop the kids. I went back and was actually packing my things to travel to Osun State when the police stormed our place and arrested me and the maid.”
She admitted that it was only the Orekoya case that attracted so much attention as other victims simply paid the ransom and collected their children.
Funmilayo’s main reason was that she wanted to be seen as a heroine in the family. “At 35, my heart desire is to finally settle down with my husband. Although I have four kids for him, he is yet to marry me officially. I was determined to do everything possible to keep him by my side. I kept getting pregnant and he had no choice but to stay with me.
“I was desperate and greedy. When I realised that they were into evil activities, instead of running away, I decided to stay back. My husband convinced me that if I help the fortune of the family to grow that he will marry me in church. I was already worried that as a member of Winners chapel, it was wrong to live with a man that is not your husband.
I was more at home when I realised that my mother-in-law was also part of the game. In fact, she encouraged me. I am not heartless, because I ensure that those kids are given the best while in our custody.”
Asked if she had any regret, Funmilayo said: “In the history of our deals, I have never seen any of the victims cry out so much. I felt bad and weak. It was then it dawned on me that I could be a victim tomorrow.”
Initial targets thankful
Before the successful kidnap of the Orekoya children, Funmilayo contacted several families who advertised that they were looking for a nanny or housemaid.
One of such is Princess who almost became a victim but was saved by her inability to provide a suitable accommodation for the suspect. At the police, she thanked God for saving her and her baby who is just nine months old. “I called her and offered to pay N10,000 for her services. She asked if she could stay in my house and I told her that I was living in a room and parlour. I only wanted her to take care of my kid while I go to work.
As soon as I return, she can go home. I pleaded severally with her but she insisted that she wanted to live in the house as a nanny. I even offered to pay her more because I was desperate. I thank God almighty that she refused,” Princess said.
Another victim who prefers that her name should not be mentioned, said that she actually met Funmilayo at an eatery in Festac. “Since I met her online, I was careful and requested that she should meet me at an eatery in Festac. I was so at peace with her and wanted to employ her. I went home with her and showed her my house and she promised to get back to me. I called her back and she told me that she was not interested again, that she had got a better offer. Where would I have started if she succeeded in picking my kids who are three and six years old, respectively?”, she asked rhetorically.
Neighbours shocked, insist Funmilayo is an angel
When the Saturday Sun visited her house at Coker estate, Shasha, residents including security men in the estate, marvelled at the authenticity of the allegations against her.
“She is a sweet, down-to-earth woman. She could greet you as many times that she passes through the gate. I can remember that she entered the house with a keke and some children but because she has four children, we assumed that they were the ones.”
From the gate to the compound where she was living, the story was same. Most of the occupants were not in the compound when Saturday Sun visited on Thursday but one of them identified as Tunji said that he saw when she entered the compound with the kids. “It was in the afternoon that she arrived in Keke Marwa. Suddenly, her husband walked towards the Keke Marwa and gave money to the driver. She then stepped down with two boys, I did not see the third one. They hurriedly moved into the house. I felt that it was none of my business, so I decided not to interfere. She has four kids and they normally come out to play with other kids.
“The only thing I observed was that on Monday, she suddenly started becoming friendly. On Tuesday, it became worse but I noticed that she was nervous. She came and dragged me out and was laughing over nothing while her husband and one tall man that stays with them dashed out and entered the car. She seriously distracted me that I could not notice if the kids that they left with were their children.”
Another neighbour, who owns a shop in the same compound, said that she never knew that Funmilayo would do such a thing. “She is my regular customer and I normally call her mama Ibeji because she has twins. I observed that she suddenly stopped coming to my shop and her children were going elsewhere. I confronted her and she said that her grandmother was sick. She also told me that she intends to relocate the children so that she can concentrate and take care of her grandmother. I still can’t believe that those kids that were missing were in this compound for the past one week. I find it difficult to believe that a mother of four could be that wicked. Ever since they moved in here in August, we have related very well.”
Kids found naked
At the Orekoya’s residence in Surulere, it was all jubilation and songs of praise to almighty God for the safe return of the kids. Recounting how the kids were found, Mrs. Adesumbo Alabi said the abductors called and told them where to find them. “They were all naked on the road. They were asked to go and pay some money at a bank in Sagamu. After paying the money, in the night, they now called them (Orekoyas) and told them to go to Egbeda. They described the place for them.
“So, they went there in the night and found the children. They were all naked and alone. Immediately they got there and saw the children, they took them to the hospital, (Cottage Hospital/Comprehensive Health College, inside Police College, Ikeja).
“The kids were not well fed by their abductors. They looked malnourished, traumatized with rashes and mosquito bites on their bodies. They were left bare footed but we thank God they are alive.’’
The children’s grandfather, Apostle Adegoke Adekunle, while jubilating over the safe return of the boys, claimed that the police initially frustrated rescue efforts.
He said but for the intervention of the Commissioner of Police, Kayode Aderanti, who ordered the Divisional Police Officer, Itire, to act swiftly, policemen were unwilling to take the kids’ mother’s complaint seriously.
The Orekoyas, in a thank-you message posted on social media around midnight, gave God the glory.
The message reads: “We give God all the glory. Our Orekoya missing kids have been found. Thank you so much everyone for your prayers, moral and financial support all along. The list is endless, of awesome mothers, sisters, colleagues, business partners; fathers and even kids too. You have been amazing! May God grant all your heart desires too? Much love always. You will not lose your children.”
[First Published in Saturday Sun, August 18, 2015]