Tuesday, 25 December 2012
Revealed: Okonjo- Iweala Paid N40m For Mom’s Release… Suspects Nabbed While Making Deposit
In what might be termed a sting operation, operatives of the State Security Service, SSS, have arrested six of the abductors of Prof. Kamene Okonjo, mother of the Coordinating Minister of the Economy and Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo- Iweala.
Recall that the minister’s mother who also happens to be wife of the Obi of Ogwuashi-Ukwu, Prof. Chukwuka Okonjo, was kidnapped on December 9, 2012 at the palace of the traditional ruler but was released five days after following concerted efforts of the combined security agencies in the country.
But in a bid to unravel the masterminds behind the kidnapping, arrests were made by the police, Army and men of the SSS.
Last week, 63 of the suspects earlier arrested by the Army were released unconditionally when their culpability could not be established. However, yesterday, six of the real suspects were eventually arrested in Asaba, Delta State, and might be flown to Abuja today.
We also gathered that a N40m ransom was actually paid for the release of the 82-year- old retired professor of Sociology from the University of Nigeria Nsukka.
A security source while narrating how the suspects were arrested said: “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.
“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 pressed on why the operatives did not immediately apprehend the suspects when the excahnge was made, the source 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.”