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Kidnappers place N50m ransom on Nicholas Ukachukwu's aide

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Special assistant to the Hope Democratic Party (HDP) flag bearer in the February 2010 governorship election in Anambra State, Prince Nicholas Ukachukwu, Mr. Austin Barry Ifedi, has been kidnapped by armed gunmen who have reportedly placed a N50 million on his head.

Ifedi was said to have been kidnapped last Tuesday near Osunmenyi, Ukachukwu's village in Nnewi-south council of Anambra State, when some five armed men blocked his Toyota Corolla sedan shortly after overtaking him. They fired shots into the air before hauling Ifedi into their SUV and sped off, an eye-witness told

A friend of the victim told that the kidnappers initially contacted Ukachukwu who for strange reasons switched off his mobile telephone, maintaining that he would not want to get involved with kidnappers. The politician-businessman has reportedly changed his phone lines since the kidnappers first contacted him.

The kidnappers thereafter reportedly established contact with Ifedi's wife, Angela, albeit briefly, during which her husband who was apparently being tortured, appealed in between screams, for her to rally his friends to raise the money so as to save his life.

Close friends of the kidnapped aide have been reportedly thronging his Prince and Princess Estate home, Abuja, to console and encourage a distraught Angela. The Anambra State Police Commissioner, Mr. Philemon Leha has been reportedly contacted and has promised to fish out the kidnappers.

Ifedi, who has been with the politician for at least a decade, had reportedly relocated to Osunmenyi ahead of the ceremonies lined up in memory of his boss's mother whose recent funeral was described by some as a “show stopper.”

Ukachukwu, who does not hesitate to flaunt his deep pockets, twice contested the governorship seat of Anambra and once the Anambra South senatorial seat. He lost on all the occasions. The barely-literate politician and CEO of Snecou Ltd reportedly first hit it big in the late 1990s when as a steel rods' dealer in the Dei-dei market, Abuja, he struck a friendship with the then minister of Works, Alhaji Abdullahi Adamu. It is said that the then minister made it possible for Ukachukwu to supply all the steel rods used to build Gwarinpa Estate.

The politician, who has since 2007 relocated to Bayelsa state to be the chief contractor to the state government, was the chief contractor in Nasarawa State for the eight years his long-time business associate, Abdullahi Adamu held sway as governor.

Alongside Adamu, Ukachukwu and his company Snecou are being prosecuted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for allegedly embezzling billions of Naira belonging to Nasarawa State.

An eye-witness told that from the commando-style operation, it was apparent Ifedi's assailants had been trailing him since Sunday when Ukachukwu hosted an elaborate ceremony in honour of his late mother.