Security agents were battling all yesterday to find the unknown gunmen who kidnapped Finance Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala’s mother.
Prof. Kamene Okonjo, 82, was kidnapped by eight gunmen who stormed the Ogbe-Ofu palace of the traditional ruler of Ogwashi-Uku in Delta State in two cars shortly before 2pm.
The octogenarian Professor of Medicine is the wife of the traditional ruler of Ogwashi-Uku, Prof Chukwuka Aninshi Okonjo, who was not in town at the time of the incident.
Delta State police spokesman Charles Muka said: “Yes, we have got the information on the kidnap. We also have information that will lead to the arrest of the hoodlums.”
The police said it had arrested a man who allegedly left the compound a few minutes before the incident took place.
The man was said to have informed the housemaid that he was in the palace to take the queen mother somewhere in the town.
It was gathered that the kidnappers, numbering about 10, were lurking around the palace, until the woman and her maid came down to serve workers at the gate soft drinks.
An eye witness account said as soon as she came down from the main building towards the gate, the criminals moved in from the gate, grabbed her and pushed her into a waiting Golf Volkswagen car.
“The abductors were heavily armed. They were about 10. They held up the men fixing the interlocking tiles and asked them to lie face down. Immediately they saw her, they bundled her into the waiting Golf car. Another car was parked outside,” the witness said.
One of them went upstairs to collect the octogenarian’s handbag. The eyewitness said another maid, who saw the kidnappers upstairs, hid herself in the Kitchen.
The suspected kidnapper informed his accomplices that there was no one else in the house. They zoomed off with Mrs Okonjo.
At the palace yesterday, the atmosphere was gloomy. Sympathisers, including members of the community’s vigilance group, were discussing the development.