A secondary school drop-out, Ruth Livinus, has been arrested for faking her own kidnapping in a bid to extort money from her widowed mother to start a hairdressing salon. The 27-year-old was apprehended along with her live-in boyfriend, Isaac Gabriel, who she claims suggested the idea.

The couple, along with 21 other suspects, were paraded at the Zone 2 Police Command in Onikan, Lagos. Zonal Public Relations Officer, SP Ayuba Umma, recounted the incident, saying, “A case of kidnapping was reported to the Assistant Inspector General of Police, Zone 2 Command Headquarters, by Jona Jumai. She reported that her sister, Ruth Livinus, who works as a domestic staff in Ajah, Lagos, went missing in May 2024.”

A few days later, the family received a call from an unknown number, claiming Ruth had been kidnapped and demanding a ransom of five million naira. To add credibility to the ruse, a picture of Ruth tied up in a bush was sent to her mother, creating fear and urgency. Ruth’s mother managed to pay only N60,000 before police traced the calls to their hideout in Ikorodu, Lagos.

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Speaking to journalists, a remorseful Ruth, originally from Kaduna State, admitted, “I wanted to use the money to open a hairdressing shop. My boyfriend, Gabriel, suggested the idea. We got caught because my stepsister tracked the number we used to contact my mother, leading the police to us. We only managed to collect N60,000 before our arrest.”

However, her boyfriend Gabriel, 24, from Benue State, claimed that Ruth had initially proposed the plan. “Ruth wanted to open a shop and suggested we tell her mother she was sick, but we realized that wouldn’t yield much money. She then decided to fake her kidnapping. I just supported the idea,” he explained.