How Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala’s mother was released
The BBC quotes Delta State Governor, Emmanuel Uduaghan, as saying 82-year-old Mrs. Okonjo was let off on a main road near her home. The driver of the car was detained, he said.
But hours after the dramatic release, said to have occurred about 10 a.m., the police are yet to provide details of the incident.
Police authorities in Delta State said the details were still being put together and would only be available later.
“We are still piecing the information together,” spokesperson, Charles Muka, was quoted by NAN.
Mr. Uduaghan claimed Mrs. Okonjo’s abductors had probably decided to let her go because of the intense pressure they faced.
But those claims are being tested by allegations that ransom was paid for the release as is often the case with kidnappings where payments are secretly made, and never officially admitted.
Mr. Uduaghan told the BBC the government’s policy of rejecting ransom demands did not change on this case.
“For this one we also insisted that we would not pay any ransom [and] as a government we would not negotiate with anybody,” he reportedly said.
Mrs. Okonjo was kidnapped last Sunday in Delta State.
Earlier, Special Adviser on Media to the Finance Minister, Paul Nwabuikwu, confirmed the release in a statement.
“I can confirm that Professor Mrs. Kamene Okonjo, wife of the Obi of Ogwashi-Uku, Professor Chukuka Okonjo and mother of the Coordinating Minister for the Economy/Minister of Finance, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala was released this morning, five days after her abduction.
“The Okonjo Family is full of thanks to the Almighty for this happy development. The family is also highly appreciative of the support and encouragement of President Goodluck Jonathan; the Country’s security services for their excellent operations; Governors Emmanuel Uduaghan of Delta, Peter Obi of Anambra, Rotimi Amaechi of Rivers and other Governors as well other friends and well wishers within and outside government for their prayers and encouragement during a very difficult period. May God bless you all,” Mr. Nwabuikwu said.
He did not offer any further explanation on how her release was secured, nor how much ransom was paid.
Prior to the release, speculations were rife that Mrs Okonjo’s abductors had made various demands, including an initial demand for the payment of about N1billion, which later reportedly reduced to N200 million, claims the police said they were not aware.
It was also reported Thursday that the abductors later reviewed their catalog of demands to include a call for the immediate resignation of the Minister, apparently because of her principled stance on the issue of the investigation of petroleum subsidy payments to marketers, which has attracted a lot of acrimonious attacks from some affected persons.
Kidnappings, including that of relatives of public officials, have been on the increase in Nigeria with families of victims paying huge ransoms to secure their release without admitting the payment publicly.