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Okonjo’s abduction: The insider connection

•How Okonjo-Iweala copes with mum’s abduction

…DPO, others in trouble as Army arrests 63 suspects

From PAUL OSUYI, Asaba

Four days after the kidnapping of 82-year-old Queen Mother of Ogwashi-uku, Prof. (Mrs) Kamene Okonjo, confusion still trailed her whereabouts, but the police are beaming their searchlight on insider connection in the abduction.

The victim is the mother of Coordinating Minister of the Economy/Finance Minister, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala. Her husband, Obi (Prof) Chukwuka Okonjo of Ogwashi-uku, Delta State, was out of town when she was seized last Sunday.

By press time, the military has 63 suspects in custody. Army spokeperson for 4 Brigade, Roseline Managbe, who confirmed the arrest, said they are being questioned. Reacting to the incident, Peter Sharwood-Smith, Nigeria Country Manager of a security firm, Drum Cussac, said Okonjo’s kidnapping is a risky strategy for the abductors. He said: “If it’s just a kidnap for ransom, then they’re not the smartest boys in the world”. The police believed that 80 per cent of kidnap cases have manifested insiders’ action.

Meanwhile, a source yesterday gave reasons the minister was staying back in Abuja. Contrary to security concern, Dr. Okonjo-Iweala may have been prevailed upon by her father, Obi Okonjo not to allow those behind the kidnap weaken her spirit because, being the first child, she is very close to her mother. The minister may have stepped on toes over the fuel subsidy probe. Obi Okonjo was said to have told the minister that his palace can handle the situation and that she should remain on duty. Hence, the minister attended the National Economic Council (NEC) and Federal Executive Council (FEC) meetings held in Abuja early this week.

The source also confirmed that the family may have established contacts with the kidnappers, noting that details of the meeting cannot be unveiled for now, for security reasons. The Obi’s palace from where the gunmen whisked away Mrs. Okonjo last Sunday remained deserted except for security operatives and workers fixing the interlocking tiles. Palace sources yesterday faulted reports that the dare-devil abductors had reduced their ransom from $1 billion to N200 million.

Palace spokesman, Chief Lawrence Okolobi told Daily Sun on phone that “as far as the palace and the chiefs are concerned, we have not been contacted by anybody for ransom and we are not aware of any. I am reading about it from the papers that they are demanding this or that.” Chief Okolobi, described the invasion of the palace by the hoodlums as “a taboo. It is an abomination, those people don’t know the implication of what they have done. Nobody takes away the wife of the king, it does not happen anywhere, not even in Yorubaland.”

Meanwhile, as security agencies continued the search for clues as to the Queen Mother’s whereabouts, the state Commissioner of Police, Ikechukwu Aduba, told a news conference yesterday that his command is beaming its searchlight on possible insider action. He said the situation has taken a sensitive dimension, hence the deployment of special detectives by the Inspector-General of Police (IGP), Mohammed Abubaka to the state to complement the men on ground. According to him, “over 80% of recorded cases of kidnapping have manifested insiders’ action.

Against this backdrop, investigation is being extended to the members of the victim’s family, palace guards that are expected to be in place and of course, the Divisional Police Headquarters, Ogwashi-Uku for any obvious error or lapses.”

He urged monarchs in the state to fortify their local security apparatus, maintaining that the police were only playing “a complementary role. We have warned severally that monarchs should fortify their palaces. Mama Okonjo’s case is a sensitive one, it demands a duty we must do diligently.

Palace guards are very, very essential. Meanwhile, Aduba has raised the alarm about arms build-up in the state, saying that the police would continue to synergise with other security agencies to mop-up weapons and reduce criminality in the oil-rich state.

The police commissioner told reporters that the command has arrested 25 suspected kidnappers, armed robbers and pipeline vandals that have been terrorizing the state, saying that the syndicates were smashed alongside their herbalists. Aduba listed one Ugo, Adaeze, Okoro, Ndubuisi, Raphael, Birhirag, Akpokona, Itah, Tunika Mordi (aka Boro) and Mokwenye (first names withheld by us), as members of the gang terrorizing Illah/Ebu, Ekete in Ovwian, Asaba, the state capital, Ogwashi-Uku, where the Queen Mother was abducted, and its environs among terrorists recently arrested across the state.

He narrated how men of Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) foiled an attempt to blow off Otologu Gas Plant in Ughelli South Local Government Area by the hoodlums. “The SARS operatives on a tip-off, intercepted the commercial bus with which the hoodlums were conveying two dynamites, and thereafter arrested one Orere and Anoke”.

According to him, one locally-made revolver, 17 rounds of live ammunition, one cut-to-size locally-made double-barrel gun, one Barretta pistol ammunition (9mm), one assault rifle ammunition, one RAV 4 jeep marked . UF 27 KJA, victim’s sim-card already inserted into another handset, two cut-to-size single barrel gun, victim’s laptop and one double-barrel gun were recovered from the suspects.

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29 Comments

  1. efo December 14, 2012 at 8:04 am

    All the arrested culpits should be matched to the gallow.No sacred cow please!!

    • Iyke December 14, 2012 at 8:21 am

      Are u matching them to d gallow dat they were found guilty????? They remain suspects now until they are found guilty or not. So guy, use ur head!!!!!!!!!

      • efula umunna December 14, 2012 at 1:45 pm

        Are u sure that those involved were arrested. |nnocent people must have been victim. U cant trust our security operators.

  2. osemwengie December 14, 2012 at 8:57 am

    All state Heads should please help our traditional institutions to survive ,a situation where private security is provided for our traditional leaders so that our beatiful culture which they represent dont just die away like that.Take a lesson from Edo State ,,Delta man

    • Mayor December 14, 2012 at 12:42 pm

      This incident does not look like something that was done by common kidnappers. It does seem it has some political & economic undertone. Too many rich mafia businesses in Nigeria have issues with the fiscal discipline being entrenched by Prof Ngozi Okonjo. And may be they want to get at her through her mother but that is a cowardly action. The same top corrupt 2 % treasury looters who have been holding this country hostage economically for years. Investigation should extend to Abuja & Lagos especially those fuel importers.

      • Salman Farisi December 14, 2012 at 5:37 pm

        It has nothing to do with fuel importers. The fuel importers are holding sway with the protection of the minister.

  3. Omekozodi December 14, 2012 at 9:11 am

    Can’t they do a crosscheck on the police officers’ call logs for the period to see what might turn up.

  4. Philips December 14, 2012 at 9:23 am

    I don’t have any atom of respect for our security outfit. Now it has happened to a known person, everybody is concerned.

    My wife was kidnapped sometime ago at Benin, it was traced to a place at upper sakponba and I was assured by our security personnel that the people will be arrested and uptill today, nothing was done, my car and money were taken.

    So we don’t have security rather we live by the grace of God. We are just paying lip service to security in the country. Innocent people will be arrested now and request for bail will be in the region of N50,000.00 – N200,000.00 according to your rank or level.

    The IG is trying but cleansing cannot be done in a year or two but the political will to do it should be there.

  5. Chukwudi December 14, 2012 at 9:32 am

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  6. Prince ojokolobo December 14, 2012 at 9:37 am

    Oh Nigeria !!! Hmmmm, there was a country indeed. What goes round comes around. The chicken has come to ruse. BICOS this touches madam minister mother state aparatus is heavily deployed. GEJ wake up from ur slumber this house is crumbling !!!

    • ColNwako December 14, 2012 at 10:29 am

      Why do you people always blame Mr President. Tell me what he should do that he has not done except carrying the weapons himself and joining one of the teams to. Hit the criminals. He reshuffled the security network by appointing Service Chiefs, funds their operations, briefs the Nation occasionally etc.
      I keep saying that, we as Nigerians are not doing our beat well. These criminals are Nigerians and not foreigners . We should ask ourselves why these Nigerians are involved in kidnapping, terrorism , armed robberies.
      If you say the economy is bad, then note that Nigeria is not the worst hit and President Jonathan did not cause it.
      If Boko Haram members are saying that it was poverty that caused it, then note also that the poverty started a long time ago. When you look at the leadership, the people up there have a fair share of opportunity to have helped to better the lives of people up there too.
      There is corruption everywhere and why can’t we be patriotic for once and say, let us make this country better. President Jonathan cannot be everywhere to check what everybody does. Nigerians don’t obey simple laws or instructions. We want to be Policed everywhere we go. This is democracy where you have to allow things go the way of the law. We are not in a military rule. An accused is innocent until proved guilty .
      Perhaps we expect people to be detained while investigation will take months before you know the President is alive to his responsibilities. You want him to influence election results instead of allowing INEC to perform. You want him to influence the courts to just jail people any how without proper trial. These lawyers are the ones tha will come again and cry blue mother, human rights, etc.
      This President believes in the rule of law and has allowed Nigerians heading various Ministries and Agencies to do their work. Nobody sees anything good but that does not stop him because he is focused. PHCN has improved a great deal and nobody talks about it.
      Nigerians want some Military action to show he is working but if that happens, same Nigerians will come out to protest over high handedness .
      The President should ignore detractors and go on and remain focused. At the end of this tenure, we shall know if we will beg him to continue or not. It is premature now but all the arrangements that are being put in place will start yielding some dividends and sooner than later , it will be clear. Nigerians can be difficult to govern just because we are not disciplined. We are a bunch of lawless people.

      • ColNwako December 14, 2012 at 10:40 am

        She is the Queen and not Queen mother. She becomes Qeen mother if her son ascends the throne and gets married. Her son’s wife becomes the Queen while she becomes the Queen Mother.

        • Naijaman December 14, 2012 at 1:48 pm

          Thank you for that correction. Some of our Nigerian journalists are very very lazy, lame, and reckless with the English language. Queen mother sounds pretty cool to this reporter’s ears and, definitely, it must be correct to him. QE II has never been Queen mother, but the Queen. Her mother, who was the Queen mother, had just died a few years ago. I have long stopped worrying about both the grammar and diction deployed in news articles in our newspapers. I cringe with a big headache reading through some of these news pieces. By the way, what do editors do for these news organizations?

          • Say you, Say me December 14, 2012 at 8:49 pm

            Thank you Naijaman. I know this is not about grammatical errors, but since we are on the topic, I would also like to point out that you are right. Most times I read the papers, I make corrections as I go along – doesn’t make reading interesting. Don’t the newspaper houses have proof readers? or whatever they call those responsible for vetting articles before going to print. And these have nothing to do with typos (typographical errors).

      • Wizzy December 14, 2012 at 12:04 pm

        U got everything right excluding the electricity generatin part.light is not improving ,it has drastically droped. Bt we still have to believe an hope by mid nxt year it wiill come good

      • eli December 14, 2012 at 6:05 pm

        Succintly put and eloquently rendered. Thank you. All Mr President bashers, pls read this.

  7. IFY December 14, 2012 at 9:45 am

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  8. benson tamino December 14, 2012 at 9:57 am

    Efo you are very stupid to say that. how can you kill suspects are they not humanbeings ? Don’t they have rights as citizens to be tried ?is dat woman God? Because her daughter is the minister that means anybody leaving around her neigbohood should die. be careful.

  9. Patrick December 14, 2012 at 10:00 am

    Please can someone educate me

    Is the wife of an obi a queen mother?

    Why is she refered to as queen mother?

    • ColNwako December 14, 2012 at 10:44 am

      Made my comment erroneously put above. There is no way correction can be made. In my piece I wrote “blue mother” instead of ” blue murder”. Punch should make it possible to edit comments.

  10. akujuobi December 14, 2012 at 10:05 am

    What an academic family –
    Prof Chukwuka Okonjo (father)
    Prof Kamene Okonjo (mother)
    Prof Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala (daughter)
    Dr Iweala (husband to Prof Ngozi)
    I dof my hat for these brians

  11. yusuff December 14, 2012 at 10:18 am

    Dear Learned Efo, your comments shows ur level of knowledge, education, and wisdom. Under the law, accused person cannot be sent to the gallows just like that until the accused person is proved beyond reasonable doubts. It means, there shouldn’t be any element of doubt for the accused criminal activities or his/her involvement or connection in the alleged crime. Even, if the accused person is finally condemn, he or she still has legal rights to appeal in the court of appeal. Mr Efo, please kindly educate yourself or ask the experts before u put down ur ink. Don’t give comment emotionally, it will leads to irrational comment.
    Thanks.

  12. Rogers December 14, 2012 at 10:36 am

    @Elo,you are really a through son of ALUU,how can prosecute a suspect without trial..thing before u comment please.

  13. james Onanefe Ibori @ Prison-UK December 14, 2012 at 10:56 am

    Close the excessive gap between the rich and the poor, its the major cause of insecurity, create job for the youths; an idle mind is satan’s workshop, make education compulsory; lack of education could result in seeking criminal route to survival in a land of plenty with the vast majority living in limbo, rich is Delta state but her citizens are poor thus creating room for crime, stop empowering thugs, stop making people live above the law with our connections with the police cos someday they will graduate to crime believing ‘ nothing dey happen’ someone is behind them. Redeploy all the policemen in Delta state, they are stayin too long in a place. Morealso create an even distribution of wealth and infrastructure witout political barriers, God bless Delta my beloved state.

  14. Obbie December 14, 2012 at 11:29 am

    D rich r getting richer n d poor r immersed in abject poverty. Which way Nigeria? God please save dis Country Nigeria before it seizes to exist.

  15. Obbie December 14, 2012 at 11:30 am

    D rich is getting richer n d poor is immersed in abject poverty. Which way Nigeria? God please save dis Country Nigeria before it seizes to exist.

  16. G-Law! December 14, 2012 at 4:46 pm

    To God be the glory, that our innocent mama have regained her freedom…
    I also urge all the people involve in doing this kind of evil man inhumanity to another to henceforth desist from such wicked attrocities of kidnapping, etc.
    We are in a democracy, where everybody can use his/her energy to protest/occupy peacefully all the anormally of govt to us instead of involving in kidnapping, etc.

  17. Bittertruth December 15, 2012 at 12:51 am

    Oh Abacha may your soul rest in peace. Though, you had your own cut from the national cake, you provided us with security, dignity among nations, education without ASSU and NLC strike and many goodies.

    Our current leaders have stolen more than you yet we have lost our dignity among nations, we now live in perpetual fear, education have collapsed, no electricity etc.

    See what Obasanjo, Babangida, and Abdusalam are doing to Nigerians. They continue to impose on us idiots as our leaders. They continue to recruit those that don’t have the interest of Nigeria at heart. Abacha, think of it, you would never have recruited people like Agangu, Okonjo Iweala, the petrol minister, Dasuki and all the so called half nigerians in your govenment. You would have known that these people are bidding for the interest the westerners where their investments and stolen money are stacked.

    Though, you are not a christian, but you would have known that “where a man lays his treasure, there is his hear”

    Dear Abacha, look at how Obasanjo and Babangida destroyed the military you build. They can not fish out a common kidnapper. Rather, they are paying ransom to free Okonjo’s mother. My question to you is when are we going to have person like you again, to fight for the common people rather than fighting for Obasanjo, Babangida and their likes?

    My hero, sleep well.

  18. G.O. December 15, 2012 at 7:00 am

    “Nobody takes away the wife of the king, it does not happen anywhere, not EVEN in Yorubaland.” (capital mine). What does the palace spokeman mean by this? Does he imply that abduction is commonplace in Yorubaland, but does however spare the queens? Or did he translate his speech from his native language in a way that some things were lost in translation?

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