Thursday 27 December 2012

Okonjo-Iweala paid N40m for mother’s release, suspects to beflown to Abuja

In a typical sting operation, the operatives of the State Security Service, SSS, picked up six of the men that abducted Prof. Kamene Okonjo, mother of the Coordinating Minister of the Economy and Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo- Iweala.

The 82-year-old was kidnapped on December 9, 2012 from the palace in Ogwuashi-Ukwu, Delta State but released five days later.

It has now emerged that the Okonjo family paid a N40 million ransom for her release, but the suspects were arrested, as they tried to deposit some of the money.

“The N40m, which was paid to the kidnappers was marked money from the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN. What happened was that the money was paid on Wednesday by our men and by Thursday, two persons had gone to the Nebisi Road branch of an old generation bank to deposit N15m out of the money,” a security source while narrating how the suspects were arrested said.

“Because it was marked money, they were promptly arrested. Our men were able to track four of the kidnappers with the aid of the two persons. Right now, we are on the trail of the remaining four suspects.

“The six suspects are supposed to be brought to Abuja tomorrow (today) to face further interrogation.”

When quizzed as to why the operatives did not arrest the suspects immediately after the exchange was made, he explained: “Don’t forget that as at that time the woman was still with the kidnappers and they could decide to kill her if they suspect anything phony. Our major concern then was to ensure that the woman regained her freedom and was not harmed in any way.

“In fact, that was the point the minister kept hammering to us. She said that we should do everything possible to secure her mother alive, even if it meant paying whatever ransom the kidnappers asked for. If you know how this is done, once they came for the money, we knew that the game was up for them. We knew that we must get them unless they would not spend that money in Nigeria.”

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