BY Emma Amaize & Austin Ogwuda
…As two kidnappers escape arrest by the whiskers * Monarch yet to return to palace
ASABA — THE police in Delta State have obtained a database on the 10-man kidnap gang that abducted Prof. Kamene Okonjo, mother of the Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, at Ogwashi-Uku, Delta State, 18 days ago.
However, two suspected members of the gang escaped arrest by a hair’s breath during the week, following separate manhunt for them by teams of the Police and State Security Service, SSS, from Abuja.
Delta State Commissioner of Police, Mr. Ikechukwu Aduba, confirmed the up-to-the minute development exclusively to Vanguard in Asaba.
The queen of Ogwashi-Uku regained freedom December 14, after spending five days in the den of the kidnappers.
Aduba, for tactical reason, declined further details on the manhunt for the fleeing kidnappers but said their days were numbered.
Vanguard gathered that the dossier on the kidnappers was made possible by the recovery of the GSM handset of the kingpin of the gang, Nwaeze Nwosa, aka Bolaji, who was shot dead by the police in Asaba.
A source said the police were trailing the kidnappers based on information on their identities and were confident that they will smoke them out.
Aduba revealed that about 500 calls were received by the kingpin with the handset, presently in police custody, in connection with the kidnap of Prof. Okonjo. He said police were working on available leads to track down the gang members.
A ransom of between N10 million and N11 million was allegedly paid before she was released to the family, but there was no love lost among the security agencies involved in the manhunt, and so, they hoarded vital information from themselves.
For instance, while Vanguard established that ransom was paid to the kidnappers, the police commissioner, who addressed reporters, December 14, the day the queen was released, was categorical that the police were not aware of the payment of ransom.
He stated that the police would never encourage the payment of ransom, but unconfirmed report said marked money was given to the kidnappers, and one of the kidnappers, who deposited part of the money in the bank, had been arrested.
How Nwosa was killed
Nwosa was shot and injured, as he attempted to scale the fence when police officers stormed his residence in Asaba. He was previously arrested and charged to court for the kidnap and murder of Obilink, a petroleum magnate in Asaba and was granted bail.
Aduba told Vanguard that his gang members ran away immediately they got the news of his death, and the ensuing panic in his camp led to the release of Okonjo, adding: “There was wild jubilation by people living around his neighbourhood when he was killed.
Police not sleeping on kidnap cases
“The police are not sleeping on the kidnap cases in the state, even when the victims had been released. For instance, we are still trailing the kidnappers of the mother of a member of the House of Representatives, Hon. Ndudi Elumelu, despite the fact that she had been released. We got information that one of them wants to travel out of the country and we are monitoring him.”
Vanguard reliably gathered that the late Nwosa was into grass cutter and fishing business and the farms were yet to be pulled down. He was also said to have a strong room, which security agents have reportedly not broken into yet.
“Many expected security agents to have done more in respect of searching Nwosa’s residence after his death but not much has been done thereafter,” an informed security source hinted, yesterday.
SSS team storms Asaba
A team of men of the State Security Service, SSS, from Abuja, weekend, stormed Asaba, Delta State capital on the trail of the suspected kidnappers of Prof. Okonjo.
An inside source, who told our reporters about the presence of the team, said: “We are also making progress, but for the details it is only in Abuja that you (press) can be briefed. For us here, we are not sleeping, we are cracking too.”
Monarch yet to return to palace
A visit to the palace showed that the Obi of Ogwashi-Uku, Prof. Chukwuka Okonjo, was yet to return to his palace. The Obi was away when the wife was seized and men of the Customs Service were still keeping vigil when we visited.