By Our Reporters
ASABA—As the Federal Government intensified efforts to secure the release of Professor Mabel Kamene Okonjo, mother of Finance Minister from the kidnappers’ den, the Delta State Police command, yesterday, confirmed the arrest and detention of two police men who were supposed to be on duty at the palace when the kidnappers struck.
Also Minister of Police Affairs, Navy Capt. Caleb Olubolade (rtd), yesterday, instructed the Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Abubakar to deploy Special Police Officers from the Force headquarters,Abujato assist in locating and rescuing Prof. Okonjo.
Speaking at the opening of a two-day workshop on ‘Budgeting for Effective Policing inNigeria’, the minister who expressed sadness at the kidnapping incident said, “it is a very disturbing issue. In unraveling this matter, the Police must take into cognizance that we have a role to let others know that such incidents will be given equal treatment. It could have been the mother of anybody.
“Already, the IGP has deployed his men and they are working round the clock on the issue. The IG is on top of the situation. However, I have instructed the IGP to deploy specialist officers fromAbujaif need be, to help in fishing out the culprits”.
There was still no information yet on the whereabouts of Professor Kamene Okonjo, but a dependable source said workers in the palace were invited by the police to make statements on how the matriarch of the Okonjo family was abducted.
Two police men arrested – Aduba
Ikechukwu Aduba, Delta State Commissioner of Police, yesterday said that the command was not party to any negotiation for ransom over the kidnap of Prof. Kamene Okonjo. He said that two policemen who were supposed to be on duty when Okonjo, mother of Finance Minister, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala was kidnapped had been arrested and detained following investigation. Aduba, who spoke with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Asaba, said that the police was not aware of any negotiation for ransom.
According to him, the command is not in support of giving ransom to the hoodlums.NANrecalls that Okonjo, the wife of Prof. Chukwuka Okonjo, the Obi of Ogwashi-Uku in Aniocha South Local Government Area was kidnapped on Sunday afternoon at the palace. “As far as I am concerned the issues of ransom in the newspapers are all stories. And I don’t like telling stories. I deal with facts. We have spread our dragnet to ensure we get these hoodlums. Issues of ransom, we are not involved and we have never supported it.
“We cannot cover up anybody, investigations were carried out and the two police officers who were supposed to be on duty are now in detention,” he said. Aduba said that there were usually insiders in every issue of kidnapping, bank robberies, among others. He said that the state command had strengthened its artilleries, which led to the arrest of 20 armed kidnapers in the past few days.
Security scare in Delta
Meanwhile, there was security scare inDeltaState, yesterday, as four daredevil kidnappers, armed with AK 47 rifles, allegedly shot dead a soldier and abducted a Lebanese expatriate staff of Setraco Construction Company at Ughelli, Mr. Harry Fadi.
Also, a judge of the Delta State High Court, Justice Marshal Umukoro, miraculously escaped death, alongWarri-Ughelli Roadat Okuokoko community, when another set of four gunmen riddled his KIA SUV with bullets.
A prominent politician and former senatorial aspirant, who hails from Ibusa in Oshimili North Local Government Area, Mr. Ngo Martins was attacked Monday night, as he was returning from Asaba to Ibusa.
His driver was shot dead, while a police officer attached to him was injured. The politician and the injured police officer were rushed to the Federal Medical Centre, FMC, Asaba for medical attention and were still there at press time, yesterday.
Delta Police Commissioner, Aduba, however, confirmed the foiled kidnap of the judge and abduction of the expatriate staff to Vanguard, adding that there was no cause for alarm, as the police would track down the kidnappers.
A woman was hit by stray bullet in the Ekiugbo Junction, Ughelli operation, while another staff of Setraco sustained minor injury.
The daring broad day escapades of the kidnappers sent a disturbing signal to residents, as well as security agents, who were combing suspected hideouts in the state for the kidnappers of Professor Kamene Okonjo, mother of the Minister of Finance, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala.
Pandemonium in Ughelli
Vanguard gathered that the gunmen killed the soldier when he attempted to stop them from kidnapping the expatriate staff, who the deceased was escorting in a vehicle at Ekiugbo Junction, Ughelli. They drove away with the Setraco staff after killing the soldier.
According to a dependable source, a male operator of the company and a woman, who was passing by, were hit by bullets during an exchange of fire between the hoodlums and security personnel attached to the expatriates.
Justice Mukoro, who is the presiding judge in High Court 1, Warri, was said to be coming to work from Asaba in a black coloured KIA Sportage with registration number, AS 530 UGH when he was attacked between 7.30 am – 8.00 am, yesterday.
Narrating how the kidnappers struck, his driver, who gave his name as Akatugba Ossai, said as they approached the traffic hold-up at Okuokuoko, he sighted some armed youths who immediately opened fire on the judge’s SUV, but he courageously drove through the traffic “to save my oga’s life.
“When I noticed two of the assassins beside the vehicle, I pushed them aside and came face-to-face with three other members of the gang, who fired at the front seat where Oga hanged his suit, thinking he was there and the bullets pierced through the front windscreen”.