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Okonjo-Iweala's mom: Kidnappers yet to make any demands

By The Citizen
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The police in Delta State said on Monday that the kidnappers of Prof. Kanene Okonjo, mother of Nigeria's Finance Minister, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, were yet to make any demands.

They dismissed as mere speculations the story making the rounds in the media that the Kidnappers had phoned in to demand $1 billion.

Police Commissioner, Delta State,  Ikechukwu Aduba, said the police were not aware of the speculated demands.

Reuters had reported that Police said someone, purporting to be one of the kidnappers, had phoned on Monday to make some demands, but it was impossible to say whether the call was genuine.

'We have to identify the source of the call. Anybody can make spurious calls and demands,' said Delta State Police spokesman, Sergie Ezegam, without giving details of who was contacted or what was demanded.

'We still don't know the reason for her abduction. What we know is that this is a crime, the woman's life is in danger and we are making frantic efforts to rescue her.'

The mother of the Finance Minister was kidnapped Sunday afternoon from her home at about 1.30pm by eight gunmen who invaded her husband's palace at Ogbe-Ofu quarters in Ogwashi-Uku.

Shortly after her arrest, the police declared they already had information about the kidnappers and have deployed a 'massive manhunt' for them.

Meanwhile, the police have mounted a massive manhunt for the kidnappers.

Nigeria’s police spokesman Frank Mba said Monday that the police had launched a “comprehensive investigation” into the abduction of Kamene Okonjo, mother of Nigeria’s Finance Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala.

Ms. Okonjo-Iweala is a respected economist who was nominated earlier this year to become World Bank chief before losing to U.S. nominee Jim Yong Kim.

Her mother’s kidnapping comes as the country has seen a spate of kidnappings and growing sectarian violence.

One of the children of the Okonjo family, Mr Onyema Okonjo, on Monday blamed security lapses for the kidnap of his mother, Prof. Kanenne Okonjo.

Kanenne (82), is the mother of the Minister of Finance, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala.

Onyema told reporters in Ogwashi-Uku, Aniocha South Local Government Area of Delta that his mother was kidnapped on Sunday at her residence between 12 noon and 1 p.m. by 10 young men.

'They came in two green Golf cars and it all happened very quickly.

'I think there were definitely some lapses in terms of security. It is not what it should have been, the people that were supposed to have been here were not here.

'This gave them the opportunity to do what they wanted to do, but at the end of the day; we really have to be prayerful.

'I think it is really a sad reflection of where we are as a society,' Onyema, the sixth in the line of seven children of the Okonjos,  said.

He wondered why an octogenarian woman, a grand mother and great grand mother should be kidnapped.

Onyema said that his father, Prof. Chukwuka Okonjo, the Obi of Ogwashi-Uku and Okonjo-Iweala were on their away to Ogwashi-Uku when the incident happened.

When contacted, the Commissioner of Police in Delta, Ikechukwu Aduba, said that this was not the time to trade blames.

He, however, promised that any officer indicted would be punished.

Aduba said that in every case of kidnapping, there was always an insider, adding that investigation was on to unravel the situation and free Kanenne unhurt.

'We have been holding meetings with the governor and we have sent out our men to comb every nook and cranny and I am sure we will get her out unhurt,'' Aduba said.