1 March 2014

Nigeria: Kidnappers Demand N500 Million Ransom to Free President Jonathan's Uncle

Photo: Vanguard
Kidnapping syndicate.

The abductors of Inengite Nitabai, the 70-year-old relative of President Goodluck Jonathan, have demanded a N500 million ransom.

A security source said that the abductors threatened to kill their victim if the family failed to produce the money.

The source also said the family had constituted a committee to evaluate the demand, establish negotiations with the abductors, and facilitate his release.

He said the kidnappers warned against the involvement of security operatives in the matter.

"The kidnappers contacted the family four days after and demanded a whooping sum of N500 million. It is believed that the family of the victim has begun negotiations with the hoodlums", he said.

Tension had heightened in Otuoke, Ogbia Local Government Area of Bayelsa State, after the kidnappers failed to establish contact with the family of their victim three days after the abduction.

Mr. Nitabai was kidnapped on Sunday evening in Otuoke, President Jonathan's hometown. He was reportedly abducted by 10 heavily armed gunmen when he was returning from an outing in his car at about 9:30 p.m.

A security source had told PREMIUM TIMES a day after the kidnap that the victim's vehicle was later recovered at Onuegbum community waterfront where it was abandoned; an indication that the gunmen might have escaped with their victim through the creek.

The kidnap is said to have rattled the Presidency, which ordered massive deployment of security officials to Otuoke and the Niger Delta creeks.

The Bayelsa State Police Public Relations Officer, Alex Akhigbe, had on Monday confirmed the kidnap.

Mr. Akhigbe said one person had been arrested in connection with the abduction while the victim's vehicle used in whisking him away had also been recovered.

"Investigation is in progress to unmask the kidnappers and rescue the victim," Mr. Akhigbe had said.

When contacted on Friday, the police spokesperson said he was not aware of any ransom demand. He said the kidnappers had only made one call to the victim's family and since then, the telephone number with which they used to call had not been going through.

He also said the police had stepped up security in the area and in the creeks of Bayelsa.

"We are still strategizing with a view to finding out where they are hiding so that the victim can be rescued," Mr. Akhigbe said.

Kidnapping has been on the rise in Bayelsa despite the enactment of a law that punishes the crime with the death penalty.

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