Okonjo’s rescue: Kidnapper killed

71

• Minister’s mum flown to Abuja
•Abductors declare war, target top shots
•Fear grips Christmas travellers

From PAUL OSUYI, Asaba

The Police yesterday sensationally explained how mother of Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister of the Economy, was rescued from kidnappers’ den, in Asaba, Delta State. The 82-year-old Prof. (Mrs.) Kamene Okonjo, who was kidnapped in her husband’s palace in Ogwashi Uku, in Aniocha South Local Government Area, Delta State on Sunday regained freedom yesterday, after fierce search by security operatives made up of soldiers, policemen, civil defence corps and the Department of State Security.

However, there are conflicting reports over the release of Prof Okonjo. One version said the kidnappers had dumped her at Kwale Junction yesterday, from where the police picked her up, while the police claimed that she was rescued from the abductor’s den in Asaba. Revealing how Prof Okonjo regained freedom, Delta State Commissioner of Police, Ikechukwu Aduba, who spoke in a press conference in Asaba, yesterday, said that one suspect was killed in the rescue operation, while four others were arrested.

According to the police chief, “we felt very sad when Mama was kidnapped and of course, we swung into action and we are happy to announce that Mama has now been released. Right now, she is at home hale and hearty. She reunited with her family early this morning. Mama was brought in this morning with a bike.” Narrating how the rescue operation was carried out, CP Aduba said: “When we kick-started the operation, we knew their target, but we needed to be cautious and handle it professionally, considering the age of Mama.

We knew what could have happened if we had invaded or stormed the place initially. “We were able to identify the number one target, who masterminded the abduction. He is one Nwaeze Nwosa aka Bolaji, known to be a notorious kidnapper. He was arrested some couple of months ago before my arrival in the state. He was arraigned in court and was released on bail. He came to Asaba and continued the nefarious act, but this time around, he has met his waterloo.” According to Aduba, when men of his command, supported by a crack team from the Inspector General of Police special task force on terrorism, Abuja, arrived the hideout in Asaba, the hoodlums attempted to scale the fence.

“They jumped a very high fence. Our men had no option other than to obey the rule of engagement. They opened fire and shot him (Bolaji), but he continued. Eventually we got him and arrested him and he was rushed to the Federal Medical Centre (FMC), where he gave up the ghost. Four of them were picked, including the deceased. The deceased and another notorious member called Bright have been indicted in connection with the abduction.

“These are bunch of terrorists because of the names they bear. They call one Hard Rock, another one is Tse-Tse fly and the other is Tipper Boy. You can imagine. We thank God we have gotten enough data to go after the other hoodlums.” Aduba said the Volkswagen Golf car with registration number ASB 697 AA, which the hoodlums allegedly used in abducting Okonjo-Iweala’s mum has been recovered. Also recovered, according to him, was a white Toyota Bus with registration number APP 64 XA. The bus marked, missionary with the bold inscription of ‘God’s Delight City Church International’ on both sides.

Before the bust of the gang, Saturday Sun gathered, the kidnappers were moving Prof Okonjo from one part of the state to another, in an attempt to smuggle her out of Delta. Meanwhile, Ogwashi-Uku remains calm yesterday, as residents appeared oblivious of the release of Prof Okonjo. When Saturday Sun visited, people were going about their normal business. The mood of the ancient town did not reflect the supposedly joy expected of people whose kidnapped queen had just regained freedom. “You can see that everywhere is calm, although I heard that they have released the woman.

Soldiers are everywhere; we are going about our lawful duties. No jubilation, but we thank God that she has been released,” a resident told Saturday Sun. The palace of the Obi of Ogwashi-Uku and Prof Okonjo’s husband was deserted yesterday, except for the presence of armed security men on the road leading there. It could not be confirmed if the N200 million ransom requested by the kidnappers was paid to secure the freedom of Prof Okonjo, as those in the know kept mute on the issue. Speaking yesterday, Palace spokesman, Chief Lawrence Okolobi, Said: “Mama has been released. She is in the palace now. She came here on a bike this morning, but right now, the children have instructed that no member of the royal family should speak on the matter.”

Saturday Sun learnt, however, that Prof Okonjo has been flown to Abuja, through the Asaba Airport. Reacting to the release, the state Commissioner for Information, Chike Ogeah, described the development as “a thing of great joy. My heart is full of joy and the relief palpable for this runs contrary to all we hold dear as African in general and Midwestern Igbo in particular, where our culture is laced with respect for the elderly and where our traditional institutions are held in the highest esteem. “My prayer is that we shall never see anything like this again and our youth are admonished to retrace their steps from such hideous evil so as to avoid the wrath of God.

We give God all the glory for her safe return.” In a related development, a self-acclaimed human right lawyer, Omo Irabor, was arrested in Warri area of the state for allegedly attempting to bribe SARS operatives to affect the release of one Vincent Akpokona. Akpokona was said to have confessed his involvement in the kidnap of one Jerry Okolowa on December 3.

He was arrested on December 6 at Army Barracks, Effurun with the SIM card of the victim while trying to collect ransom. Irabor was said to have approached the SARS team investigating the matter and promised to offer the team the sum of N700, 000 to secure the release of the suspect, whose gang is still at large.

CP Aduba, who confirmed this, said the SARS team played along with the suspect and “true to his promise went to the team with the said N0.7m in company of the relations of the suspect and he was subsequently placed under arrest.

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71 Comments

  1. I thank God for the return of the queen. Nigerian government and it security agents shld endevour to act promptly when other ppl fall victim, all citizen shld be treated equally and case of kidnap shld be taken seriously.

  2. Thank God mama has regained her freedom. Pls police should dig into the one that parade himself as human right activist. So mr Irabor,s own style of activist is to negotiate how a criminally minded fellow as serious as kidnapping issue is concerned in Nigeria today has the gut to enter into agreement to release a kidnapper to a tune of .7million Naira? He is among the kidnapping group in Delta state. Let him also name the person that gave him such amount of money to be given to the police as bribe/ gratification to effect the release of a suspected kidnapper, idiot.

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  4. Another police story. Why not be bold enough to tell Nigerians that the government paid the ransom of N200 million demanded by the kidnapper and subsquently Mama was released. If the police effected the release of mama why did they not bring her back, why on a cyclist. The police in order to hide their shame went and killed a known kidnapper claiming he was the mastermind

  5. Austin Udowelle on

    We are merely treating the symptoms of the disease without touching the root cause. The bombardment of Odi did not stop militancy in Niger Delta – Goodluck Jonathan. If they like let them kill every body in Asaba and Ogwashi Ukwu it doesnt solve the problem. Mama Okonjo am not happy that you were kidnapped but dont blame the boys rather blame the society, our politicians in particular. They are the architects of our misfortune. No justice no peace. Thats the way it is.

  6. WHY KILL THE KIDNAPPER? THIS IS SERIOUS! HOW ARE WE SURE HE IS THE REAL KIDNAPPER? MAYBE ANOTHER WAY OF BRINGING THE DRAMA TO A GOOD END AND GIVING THE REAL KIDNAPPER SOFT LANDING

    • He was hit in a shoot out. Do you civilians reason at all. You want the security to catch an armed kidnapper. He was wounded and he died later, while the others were arrested. It is not always possible to arrest armed suspects because they always attempt to shoot their way through to avoid being arrested and in the process, they get killed. Criminals are , in most cases, not trained in the use of weapons and cannot face trained and experienced Policemen.

      • @ Col Nwakwo, honestly i believe all your point, but as a officer of Nigeria force, dat have carried out enough investigation, are you sure the police are telling us the truth,? are you sure they shoot the real Kidnappers? Then why did Mama came back to the palace with a bike?. bcos Nigeria police i know will hold a world press conference, displaying mama for all the world to see if she was truly been rescue by them.

  7. Thank God for the safety of mama. It is very obvious ransom was paid for her release: the police i know will hold a world press conference displaying mama for all the world to see and ”mine” the event till the last drop. The old woman came home on a bike! Meaning the kidnappers dropped her off. The police got to know of her release when she was already home. They now went after a known kidnapper who has done business with them in the past and dropped him in order to save face. Tell us another story joo.

  8. Thank God she’s been rescued.My happiness is that the kingpin kidnapper was shot dead. Had it been he was apprehended alive and charged to court one SAN would have votunteered to be his advocate bcose of his dubious money, trust Nigeria court,in the process he will invade justice as money changes hand while court waiting or searching long for witnesses to testify against him. Which in many cases does not turn out well.

  9. Thank God this octogenarian has been released.

    I wonder why the police was not kind enough to bring the poor old woman back in their van to forestall any further mishap, but rather let her hop onto a motorbike to be lifted back home.

    A motorbike ride treatment is not good enough for an innocent old woman who has spent the last 5 days in the den of kidnappers.

    • @jude,,, who told you police rescue her, she came home where they dump her, The police only went after a repented kidnapper they know,police i know will hold a world press conference displaying mama for all the world to see if truly they rescued her,

  10. Who is fooling who? All animals are equal, some were more equal than others. In Nigeria we got classes for citizens the police response depends on your class and status

  11. This story sound more like all these senseless Noliwood movies! The family members said she was brought in bike while police claimed they rescued her! Na waa o! So police rescued her and put her in okada? Hope they didn’t killed the victim because his nickname? Trust 9ja police, they can never admit failure!



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  12. If na poor man wife police and Army for go to this extent?Remember that every one is equal in the sight of the Almighty.Government should protect all citizens.

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  14. The most criminal minded people on earth is nig police. The mattar is clear and straight. A money was paid as demanded by the animals and Mama was left off the hook that was why Mama rode on bike back home in the morming. Does nig police operate okada.

  15. See how Police, army and all d forces joined heads together to release mama. Pls treat everyone equally. I’m haPpy 4 mama. Welcome bk.

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  17. This is the true story leave all this police yarn.

    Day 1: She was arrested
    Day 2: A ransom of $1billion was quoted
    Day 3: President send a subsidy relief fund of N106billion to the senate
    Day 4: Senate signed it
    Day 5: She was successfully released

    Question: Did the Government paid a ransom ? LOL

  18. Government cannot stop crime by fighting d results of d crime instead of d causes of d crime.until majority of d youths are gainfully employed crime cannot be reduced

  19. Mr commissioner of police is it not clear now to u that we already know how u people fake stories just to cover ur incompetence? For Mama, thank God u re stil alive when u unite wit ur daughter lecture her on the reality of nigeria Economy, i sincerely pray to have the guts of those kidnappers i won’t release my victim until dey put back the subsidy. Obi i love ur breakdown of event.

  20. Police are yet to tell us the truth, mama was released at kwale road while police arrested kidnappers at asaba town,do we still have original press men in niger,why not ask police to explain than to carry the entire nation blind.

  21. 10, 15 and 200,000 million.

    If any responsible government, federal, state or family of Okonjis should pay a ramson of such nature inspite of the radical approach in dispatching security operators to the village, it is safe to say that Kidnapp are here legalised.

    If the police, Army, SSS and SARS were not able to make any impact on the release of mama and arrest of those inolved, it means we have no security network in the country and all these security agencies should therefore with immediate effect disband.

    Vangard has reported that 10 to 15 millon naria ramson was paid for the release but the Police Commsioner seems not to made mention of it.

    The public deserve to know the truth, the whole truth and nothing than the truth.

  22. The truth is not yet out. It must be revealed within days. Police and their credentials in lying. This bike story is something that should be seriously looked into.

  23. The truth is not yet out. It must be revealed within days. Police and their credentials in lying. This bike story is something that should be seriously looked into.

  24. …Its obvious the person who wrote this ‘story script’ did that in a haste to save the usual ”…as of press time”.Police will never stop being the weeping child in nigeria.SUPER STORY INDEED-episode 5.Time out.

  25. Look at their mouth like lips of pig. 4 those that are condeming †ђξ NPF(police) they hv tried by capturing †ђξ kidneppers no life lost, except †ђξ H.O.K aka bolaji that was shot. Whether mama was brought home with motorcycle or not that’s never our concerned, let us learn how to gives kudos to our ppl †ђξy hv tried a lot. At least they recovered †ђξ volkswagen golf and †ђξ toyota bus what else! Well, mama advice ur daugheter to b careful in her office. Becos this is a signed of warning. Mama tkia of urself. Let me not forget †ђξ ohter security, like army, civil defence, sss and †ђξ informer we thank u all. Byebye

  26. We are happy and thankful to God almighty that Mama came back alive without a hurt, But please the Nigerian Police should stop insulting the collective and personal inteligent of Nigerians, How can the old Woman came back on a bike? It only confirm the first stories that she was dropped off meaning that actually a ransome was paid, It is not the police that rescued her but the Kidnappers let her go after receving the ransome, Police is trying to reap where they never sow. You said you know their hideout or enclave and you could not rescure her for 5 days,Please stop insulting our inteligent, Thank God for his mercies in bringing the woman back to her family

  27. even a kid wil see through this white lie….. Rescue watin? Una neva wan tell us how much una pay? Whom na kil say na kindnapper and why u used bike on an 82yr old woman…. We r not fools, this is noting but a trash

  28. i thank she is now back safe with her family but i don’t believe a word police said, all the words of the police is nothing but BULLSHIT, if she was really rescued by the police, why was it a cyclist that brought her back home. can you imagine them saying that they knew but didn’t want to storm the place. BULLSHIT.

  29. Police,Army,Navy,Air Force,Boys scout,Boy Bridge,Customs,Civil defense all involved in the search for this woman because her daughter is a minister under GEJ.
    POOR NIGERIANS ARE COMPLETELY HELPLESS,WHO CAN CAN HELP THEM IF ALMIGHTY GOD.

  30. We thank God 4 d release of mama even though d circumstance that surrounded her release is questionable. The two version of d story regarding her release call 4 no elaboration. My greatest concern here is the reaction 4rm d commissoner of information of delta state,Mr. Chike Ogeah,his words, “my prayer is that we shall never see anything like this again and our youth are admonished to retrace their steps from such hideous evil so as to avoid the wrath of God. We give God all the glory for her save return”. The question now is that,when did this our leaders going to accept their mistake or shortcomings? However, it is our leaders that suppose to retrace their steps from looting d funds meant 4 development which is d root causes of kidnapping and other violence crimes to avoid d wrath of God and not d youth who are victim of d pevailing circumstance.

  31. Any society or community that failed to imbibed the cultures and norms of the people at a giving time it’s on the downward trend. The society where they valued money more than human being, they worship money than worshipping God, they embraced lies instead of truth, their ways are crook in all their endeavours, they went there with one mind but reaching there it becomes double. Criminal oriented societies deviod of such evils havoc on ur people, for how long will u continue in this business of urs?

  32. Thk God for her release.
    What we hv in Nig. is govt of d few elites by d few elites for d few elites. The whole security operatives in Nig went in rescue of this one person bcs of whom she is.
    In Anambra, less mortals do not report most rbry n kidnap. to d police bcs they do nothing about it, instead u ‘ll b made to part with more money.

  33. This is the version of the vanguard news.

    By Emmanuel Amaize, Regional Editor, South-South, Austin Ogwuda and Festus Ahon
    SIX days after a 10-man kidnap gang seized Professor Mabel Kamene Titi Okonjo, mother of the Minister of Finance, Dr. (Mrs) Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, at Ogwashi-Uku, Delta State, the 82-year-old retired professor of Sociology at the University of Nigeria, UNN, Nsukka, was released, yesterday morning, by her kidnappers in Benin City, Edo State, after collecting between N10 and N15 million ransom.

    Suspect arrested

    A young boy, suspected to have been used by the kidnappers as a “sacrificial lamb” to lead the old woman to safety after the ransom was delivered to them on Saturday, was however arrested by security agents to help them unravel the identities of the hostage takers.

    Prof Okonjo flown to Abuja

    Professor Kamene Okonjo was shepherded to her Ogwashi-Uku home by security agents, who kept the information secret.

    Journalists, who kept vigil at the country home of the Okonjos, waiting for her to be brought home did not know when she finally arrived as she was already inside at about 1.56 pm when the reporters noticed unusual movements in some parts of the compound.

    Unlike December 9 when she was forcefully taken away, she was gently led yerterday from the house, to a vehicle which took her to the Asaba Airport, ostensibly on her way to Abuja, to reunite with her daughter, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala. She was accompanied on the trip by her son, Onyema.
    The chartered flight that took her to Abuja departed at about 2.29 pm even as soldiers, the Police and Customs officials prevented photographers from taking pictures of the event throughout the duration.

    It was gathered that because of the tense situation at home, her husband and monarch of Ogwashi-Uku, Obi Chukwuka Okonjo Agbogidi, who travelled out 24 hours before the queen mother was abducted, was advised not to return home yet.

    It was learnt that security would be beefed up in the palace as more soldiers would be deployed to the area before the return of the monarch to Ogwashi-Uku.

    Jonathan, Okonjo-Iweala thank Uduaghan

    Her elated daughter, Dr. Okonjo-Iweala, reportedly called Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan of Delta State to thank him for his immense support towards the release of her mother.

    Saturday Vanguard also gathered President Goodluck Jonathan was alerted as soon as Prof Okonjo was released, yesterday morning. A source said President Jonathan was also happy with the news and commended the governor for a job well done.

    Negotiations for Professor Okonjo’s release were carried out by her son, Prince Onyema Okonjo, who spoke various times with the kidnappers on telephone between Sunday, December 9, when she was snatched and yesterday morning.

    Security agents monitored part of the negotiation with the kidnappers, but could not trace their exact location until ransom was paid.

    Notorious Benin bypass

    The kidnappers planned their strategy and location in a manner that made it difficult for security agents to lay siege for them without being noticed and the negotiations for the release of the abducted woman cancelled. Moreover, the kidnappers were alleged to have sternly warned Onyeama that if security agents were conscripted into the arrangement of delivering ransom, his mother would die, and they (kidnappers) had nothing to lose.

    Finance Minister, Ngozi Okonjo Iweala and her released mother, Prof. Kamene Okonjo

    The location was the notorious Benin City by-pass, along the Warri-Benin City – Lagos Expressway in Edo State. Many motorists and passengers had either been dispossessed of their belongings or killed in some cases, in the past months, at this bad spot, but the police were yet to find solution to the incessant robberies on the road even as investigations have shown that some gangs of bandits hide their arms and ammunition in the forest, near the by-pass.

    A source familiar with how Professor Okonjo was rescued told Saturday Vanguard that Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan played a very big role in her release, as he provided necessary logistics and support.

    Police confirm release of Prof Okonjo from Kwale

    DELTA State Commissioner of Police, Mr. Ikechukwu Aduba, yesterday, confirmed the release of Professor Kamene Okonjo.

    He told reporters, “Delta State police command wishes to confirm the release of Her Majesty, Professor (Mrs) Kamene Okonjo. She was released unhurt in the early hours of today (yesterday). It could be recalled that on Sunday December 9, 2012 at about 1100 hours, unknown kidnappers kidnapped the Queen at the revered palace. The Delta State police supported by a crack team from the Inspector General of Police’s, IGP’s, Special Task Force, STF, on terrorism Abuja consciously and professionally, with due caution, swung into action bearing in mind the age of the octogenarian Professor. We collated intelligence on the activities of the hoodlums and struck at their hideouts in Asaba.”

    “And in course of effecting the arrest of one of the notorious kingpins, Nwaeze Nwosa aka Bolaji, attempted to scale the wall fence and was shot at by the team and he suffered fatal gunshot wounds. His corpse is presently deposited at the Federal Medical Centre, FMC Asaba.

    “Some recoveries were also made in the process, thus mounting pressure on the hoodlums, who eventually capitulated and hurriedly released Her Majesty. Also arrested in the course of the raid is one William Omenma”, said the CP.

    As at the time of this report, it was reliably gathered that the kidnapped octogenarian might be flown out of the country. An ash-coloured Golf car with registration number, Delta 697 AA and a white-coloured Toyota Mitsubishi bus with registration number Anambra KPP 64 XA, used for the kidnapping operation were recovered and parked at the State police headquarters, Asaba.

    The Police Commissioner further added that the Queen mother was brought home on a motor cycle to Ogwashi-Uku palace right away from the Kwale hideout of her kidnappers where she was kept.

    He however, declined to be drawn into the controversy over whether any ransom was paid or not, saying, “I cannot be involved in the issue of ransom because when you pay ransom , you are encouraging them ( kidnappers). The hostage value is where you have money to pay. Delta State Police Command will not get involved in any form of negotiations; if there was I don’t know.

    “But all I am telling you is that mama is alive and I was there with her this morning. Thank God that mama, at the end of the day, is out as I assured you people that we don’t want a situation where she would be hurt. Otherwise, if we had stormed that place (Kwale hideout), it could have been very bloody”, he stated.

    When our reporters visited Ogwashi-Uku palace yesterday morning, the gate was under lock and key and people were prevented from getting into the palace.

    However stern-looking armed soldiers and men of Customs were found inside the compound with low fence, even as the entire community was quiet.

    Kidnappers actually started with S1 billion ransom demand

    Our source said the kidnappers initially demanded for $1 billion as reported by the media despite the fact that the claim was denied by family sources and some security chiefs.

    “They actually asked for the resignation of the Minister and mentioned the oil subsidy palaver,” it was learnt.

    Reduced to N200 million, later N6 million

    “But when they saw that the $1 billion would not fly, they reduced it N200 million.

    “At a stage when they saw that N200 million was not forthcoming, they said they should be paid for the cars and guns, which they used in the operation which they estimated at about N6 million. However, they said the money should be tripled, meaning the ransom should be between N18 million to N20 million. Nevertheless, the kidnappers assured that if ransom was paid without the involvement of security agents, they would release her safely and unhurt.

    “They reiterated that they were aware that soldiers and the police had been directed to search for them, but said their lives were not worth the pains Prof Okonjo’s death would cause the family and the nation”, the source stated.

    Finally, between N10 m – N15 million ransom paid

    Our source was not emphatic on the amount paid, but said, “Between N10 million and N15 million was paid as ransom”

    We gathered that it was after the kidnappers satisfied themselves that the Okonjos kept to their side of the bargain that they released the family’s matriarch yesterday morning in Benin City.

    Saturday Vanguard did not know exactly how the young boy, who was asked to lead Prof Okonjo to where the family members would see her, was contracted, but the usual practice of kidnappers is to use somebody as scapegoat.

    “In some cases, they would pay innocent person money and tell him to deliver a letter to their intended victim or as it is probable in this case, they would have told the young boy that the old woman was missing her way and later lured him to take her to where she would get a taxi to her place, or to where her family members were waiting for her, after which, they would call the family to look out for the woman at such a place, ” it was learnt.

    Saturday Vanguard was further told yesterday, that security agents combed the Benin bypass for the kidnappers after Prof Okonjo was released, but the hostage takers had vamoosed.

    “In fact, they made sure they left no trace but DSS operatives were said to be carrying out discreet investigations on the matter.”

    Governor Uduaghan’s assurance comes true

    Not many believed the Delta State governor, Dr Uduaghan, when he assured the Okonjo family and the people of Ogwashi-Uku, that the queen mother would be released unharmed.when he visited, 24 hours after the kidnap,

    During the visit, he charged the people of Ogwashi-Uku and the Okonjo royal family not to take the laws into their hands as the government was doing everything possible to rescue the abducted woman.

    The governor stated that law enforcement agencies in the state were already in the field gathering information as well as tracking down the perpetrators to ensure her safe return.

    In particular, he enjoined the community leaders, vigilante groups and the entire Ogwashi-Uku community to remain calm and not to take any action that may prompt the kidnappers to act in rash manner that may be detrimental.

    He stressed that only peaceful disposition as well as collaboration and cooperation with the law enforcement agents would ensure the desired objectives at that point in time.

    Dr Uduaghan urged the people not to be involved in rumour mongering, as it was capable of jeopardizing the rescue efforts, explaining that only useful information would be required as the situation was delicate.

    “Please do not get involved in rumour mongering and trading stories that will not help law-enforcement agents. Only information that will help in her rescue is needed now,” he stated, pointing out that the

    perpetrators of the crime would be tracked down and brought to book.

    His words, “I have been in touch with officers of various law enforcement agencies and I assure you that Prof Kamene will be safely returned. The perpetrators of such a despicable crime will be brought to justice”.

    Uneasy calm in Ogwashi-Uku

    The news of the release of the queen mother was received with reservation by the people of Ogwashi-Uku, as nobody had sighted her as at about 1.44 pm in her family house to confirm the report.

    By 1.45 pm, Saturday Vanguard was told the Okonjo home at Ogbe-Ofu quarters, Ogwashi-Uku, where she was kidnapped, remained unusually quiet, as there was no sign that she has been released.

    Deltans explode with joy, praise Uduaghan

    Prominent Deltans, yesterday described the release of the Queen of Ogwashi-Uku, Prof Kamene Okonjo as an act of God and commended the State Governor, Dr Emmanuel Uduaghan and security operatives for their relentless efforts that ensured her release.

    Among those who spoke were Mr Goodnews Agbi, Mr Newworld Sefugha and Dr Ebenezer Okorodudu. Agbi said; “The release of Okonjo Iweala’s mother is a great relief to the families of the Okonjos, the people of Ogwashi Uku, Delta State and indeed Nigeria.This spate of kidnapping is, however, an embarrassment to the country. The Boko Haram insurgency in the North is bad enough and to combine that with this high profile kidnapping taking place these days is definitely unacceptable to our people. Investors will shun anyenvironment with high level of insecurity. While we urge the Federal Government to device more pragmatic ways to curb this menace, the State Government should also be more involved in combating this kidnapping trend as it is also making Delta unsafe haven,”he said.

    The State Commissioner for Local Government Affairs, Mr Newworld Sefugha commended Governor Uduaghan and security agents for their unrelenting efforts, which resulted in the release of the Queen mother of Ogwashi-Uku kingdom saying, “The efforts put in by our Governor, Dr Emmanuel Uduaghan shows that he is very committed to the security of the people of the State,” appealing to Deltans not to allow themselves to be driven into crime “because of the urge to celebrate Christmas in a big way.”

    In his comments, a one-time Commissioner for Commerce and Industry in the State, Dr Ebenezer Okorodudu thanked God and Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan for the release of the mother of the Minister of Finance, Prof Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala.

    Okorodudu also thanked Deltans, particularly the people of Ogwashi-Uku for their prayers during the kidnap saga.

    Police arrest kidnap suspect in military barracks

    A kidnap suspect, Vincent (surname withheld), has been nabbed by the Delta State Police Command, while negotiating for ransom with the telephone of the victim, within the precinct of the Effurun Military Barracks, opposite the Spare Parts Market, Effurun, Delta State.

    He was arrested by police detectives, who tracked his call to the military barracks on December 6.

    Saturday Vanguard, however, gathered that some civilians live and do their business within and around the Mammy Market in the military barracks.

    However, there was a twist in the arrest of the kidnap suspect, as his lawyer and human rights activist, Barrister Casely Omon-Irabor, has also been arrested for allegedly attempting to influence police investigations into the matter. A family source, however, described the allegation that the activist offered money to a police officer to free the kidnap suspect as a frame-up.

    Delta State Commissioner of Police, Mr. Ikechukwu Aduba confirmed the arrest of the kidnap suspect and lawyer to Saturday Vanguard.

    A police source said the activist, who , during the week, facilitated the return of arms and ammunition by repentant ex-militants to the state government would be charged to court.

    Diary of a kidnap saga

    THE abduction of Professor Mabel Kamene Titi Okonjo, the 82-year-old mother of the Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala is one high profile kidnap case that sent cold shivers down the spines of many.

    It came like a thunderbolt to the Governor of Delta State, Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan in particular, security agencies and Presidency as well, given the status of the family, in the local and international communities.

    The governor was among the early callers to the family and tried to raise the spirit of the people while addressing the chiefs and family members at the palace. However, it was obvious that he did not want to betray emotions.

    Anybody close to him would know that he was downcast over the kidnap.

    Yet, there had been cases of high -profile kidnapping including those of a high court judge, Justice Marcel Okoh, Commissioner for Higher Education, Prof Hope Eghagha, the governor’s uncle, Pa Vincent Uduaghan, among numerous others.

    DAY ONE, Sunday, December 9

    At about 12.00 pm and1.00 pm, 10-armed members of a kidnap syndicate drove into the palace with two low profile Golf cars. Ordinarily, such a vehicles would not raise eye brows that the occupants were people of such hue. Nevertheless, it was a calculated deception.

    “They came to the gate of the palace with a Golf car while another car was packed few metres away from the gate. In a “Gestapo manner” they entred into the compound.

    According to an eyewitness, “They held up the men fixing the inter-locking stones in the compound at gun point, forcing them to lie face down.”

    They were said have lurked around the palace until the 82-year-old woman and her maid came down to serve soft drinks to workers who were fixing the tiles at the gate.

    The witness added, “As soon as the woman came down from the main building, towards the gate, the abductors moved in, grabbed and bundled her into a waiting vehicle. One of the gunmen had the temerity to run into the main building from where he took away her handbag before they zoomed off”.

    1.30 pm

    As the news broke, police from Ogwashi Uku Police Divisional Headquarters, local vigilante, some palace chiefs and other sympathisers thronged the palace.

    1.45 pm

    Reinforcement came 45 minutes later; the whole place was cordoned off.

    Delta Commissioner of Police, Mr. Ikechukwu Aduba and the DPO in charge of Ogwashi Uku patrol team visited to obtain first hand information and take care of the situation.

    DAY 2, Monday, December 10

    7.00 am

    As early as 7am, a detachment of soldiers from the Fourth Merchandised Brigade, Benin City, Edo State, led by its Commanding Officer, Brigadier-General Obi Umahie arrived the palace to strengthen security.

    In addition, men of the Customs and plain clothes detectives also arrived the palace.

    11.00 am

    Delta State Governor, Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan, accompanied by the State Commissioner of Police, Mr. Ikechukwu Aduba, Director, Department of State Security, DSS arrived and stayed beyond 12 noon. Governor Uduaghan, Commissioner of Police in the state, Director of DSS, top army officers and other senior officials of the government held a meeting at the palace to strategize on how to locate the kidnappers, while appealing to the community leaders, vigilante groups and the entire community to remain calm. Uduaghan called for useful information and cautioned against rumour mongering that would future hamper the early release of the woman.

    DAY 3, Tuesday, December 11

    9.20am

    C onstruction of security post at the palace gate commences following identified flaws in the security of the palace

    12.00 pm

    The Rector of Delta State Polytechnic, Ogwashi-Uku, Dr. Edna Mogekwu came calling.

    Two policemen, who were supposed to be on duty at the palace, but were inexplicably absent when the kidnappers struck were arrested and detained.

    6.30pm

    Delta State Information Commissioner, Mr. Chike Ogeah issues a press statement, saying that some of the kidnap cases in the Delta were “politically-motivated”.

    His words, “Security has always been a priority in the administration of Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan of Delta State. Although the police are controlled by the Federal Government, Delta State has always funded the Police Command in the state, in fact, Dr. Uduaghan set up a Special Squad on kidnapping and other violent crimes with many operational vehicles and communication equipment procured for it.”

    “A lot of success was recorded through this special squad. But some of the kidnappings are not always tied to demand for ransom. Some are politically motivated and they are the ones that go for kidnappings that will attract the highest media attention.

    “I don’t agree with you that the political elite have not been affected by the kidnap. I think they are rather the main target. When their loved ones are kidnapped as has been the case, the impact is on them. We have had a serving commissioner, lawmakers and family members of top public office holders kidnapped in the past.

    “The causes are many and varied, but for us in Delta State, we think unemployment is a critical factor. That is why Dr. Uduaghan evolved the three-point agenda, comprising peace and security, human capital development and infrastructural development. A common denominator of the three factors is employment generation. Using the small and micro finance scheme, we have been empowering the younger generation through various skills acquisition programmes packaged by the government”.

    DAY 4, Wednesday, December 12

    10.00 am

    Villagers still believe the Finance Minister would come despite alleged security warnings, as she needed to be personally on ground to coordinate certain things. So, the waiting for the arrival of the Finance Minister continued

    10.05 am

    Palace chiefs meet at the palace behind closed doors

    Ears remained open for possible clues on the release of the woman.

    Day 5: Thursday, December 13

    10.00 am

    Soldiers raided Ogwashi-Uku community at the end of which about 63 persons were rounded up, for questioning in connection with the kidnap

    11.34 am – Delta State Secretary to the State Government SSG, Comrade Ovuzourie Macaulay holds secret meeting with GSM service providers in Asaba

    12.00 pm

    Delta State Commissioner of Police Mr. Ikechukwu Aduba addresses a press conference in connection with the incident and stressed the need for people to be always security conscious in their homes and environment.

    DAY 6, Friday, December 14

    9.00 am

    The news of Prof Okonjo’ release on Friday morning filtered into town.

  34. My good people of Nigeria,

    Your inputs towards this mama’s issue are all accurate and glaring but I want to point out something which is Cristal clear in the entire story.

    Fortunate enough, the kidnappers got what they demanded and the kidnapped prof. was released. There is nothing like having a gun combat with the hoodlums ,killed their kingpin and he later died in hospital, arrested the other four. This is a story the incompetent police formed to give kudos to their failed acts.

    I am not being deceived by the measures our security operatives function in this country but I am dismayed at the pace at which they will arrest a situation and put all the salts to make it real tasty.

    Mama came home on a bike, it simply means the ransom was paid on arrangement basis and Mama was allowed or rather released to go home. If the Police had arrested the situation, they should be the one to bring Mama home and not on a bike.

    I therefore appeal to our dailies to be cautious of the kind of news they published because we have learned Nigerians and the world is reading their articles.

    Mama, in all of this occurrence, I am glad you finally made it hope safely no matter how much ransom was paid to free you.

  35. The family should be bold enough to tell nigerian that so so amout of money was giving to police or the kidnappers for the realeas of the queen, the truth about the money involvd has not been told,we thank God mama has been realeas,and a bike man drove mama home just like that,nigerians wil like to hear from mama when she regain herself,nigerians its intrested to know wether the ransom was paid to the kidnappers or to nigerian police,

  36. If the police actually rescued her, we all know that the pictures of both the dead and arrested kidnappers, as they claim, would all be front page . So let no one be fooled , if ransoms are not paid why then is kidnapping a lucrative business in Nigeria? . In the developed world , no kidnapper ever escape with the ransom, it is highly impossible..Nigeria is a failed state and it’s all a matter of time …. There is profit in kidnapping and this why the police protect them , it’s like armed robbery in Nigeria , the police protect and even arm the robbers . We are all not safe in this so called country… God help us all..

  37. Uzoh from lagos on

    I don’t know about Queen but it is job well done by the Govt by securing the release of mama,a Medical Doctor who has served the nation and humanity upto this good old age of 82 Years.The Security Agents must not release any one confirmed in this dastardly act.
    I do not believe that we should combine democracy and monarchy in the form we have it today.Democracy should obliterate this nebulous and quasi dictatorship that is manifest today in the traditional institutions across the nation.These Traditional Rulers are veritable source of all the conflicts and deaths in most cities and Towns in Nigeria today hence should be abolished completely.
    The Youths must avoid this evil called kidnapping because whatever you sow you will ultimately reap,the prize they will pay is grevious hence those who instigate them into it may abandon them .

  38. thank God mama is back , to God be the glory, well if you people are reading the police report you have more time to waste. as you will NEVER get a truth from NPF till Jesus come AMEN

  39. THE RATE OUR POLICE MEN ARE BEEN PROMOTED IN THIS COUNTRY ITS ALAMING WIHTOUT A PRUF OF KILLING EVEN A RAT OR DOG, ITS UNASCEPTABLE TO NIGERIANS, PROMOTION SHOULD BE BASE ON THE PARFOMANCE OF FIGHTING CRIME, BE YOU A JUNIOR OR SENIOR OFFICIALS,ENOUGH OF THE NONESENSE PROMOTION OF NIGERIAN POLICE WITHOUT ANY EVIDENCE OR PRUF TO SHOW FOR THE PROMOTION, AS REGARDS TO MAMA KIDNAPPERS ,A SERIOUS POLICE MAN WOULD VE BEEN UPLIFTED BY HIS OR HER DISPLAY OF ACTION TOWARDS THE KIDNAPPERS, BRIBRY AND CURRUPTIONS HAS BLINDFOLDED THE EYES OF NIGERIAN POLICE MEN NOT TO SEE OR KNOW WHEN BLESSINGS FOR PROMOTION ITS AROUND THE CORNER ,

  40. Thank God that the old woman finally regain her freedom, but this shameless Nigeria force will learn how to say common truth. They are use of forging stories all the time and forget that we are not fools to accept whatsoever they frame. Offcorse the kidnappers got exactly what they need, but they are use of killing and arresting innocent people instead of going back to barrack without headline.

  41. There is a limit that the public should know – that is what makes it a security outfit. Again, the end justifies the means and we need to be happy.
    IG and his team did a good job and deserves commendation. I thank God for using them and their agents to save our mother’s life. Simple.

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