BY SIMON EBEGBULEM
BENIN—SIXTEEN days after he was abducted by kidnappers, on his way to Ekpoma from Benin City, Justice Daniel Okungbowa of the Edo State High Court, has regained his freedom in the early hours of Sunday.
The state high court judge was abducted while on his way to the Ekpoma division of the high court, three weeks after the release of human rights lawyer, Chief Mike Ozekhome, SAN.
The Benin branch of Nigeria Bar Association, had boycotted courts in protest over Okungbowa’s abduction. The protest grounded activities at the state judiciary for over two weeks.
It was learnt that Justice Okungbowa was released at 2 a.m by his abductors.
It was further learnt that his release was delayed due to negotiation between the kidnappers and the family over the ransom demanded. Vanguard could not confirm whether ransom was paid or not. The Edo State Police Commissioner, Mr. Foluso Adebanjo, who confirmed his release to Vanguard, yesterday, said the state high court judge had rejoined his family.
Mr Adebanjo did not give details of how the judge was released. There was jubilation at the Benin City branch of the NBA, when the news came that the judge had been released. Mr Sam Abasilim, a member of the NBA, Benin City, also confirmed the release to Vanguard.
According to him, “We are happy because we were scared due to the delay in releasing him. You are aware that we boycotted court sittings because of his abduction, so we are happy that we will be going back to work now. It is not always easy for members of the Bar to concentrate on their jobs when a judge’s life is in danger. But we thank God for his release and we appeal to security agencies to stop this incessant kidnapping of Nigerians.”