Negotiations have begun in earnest with the kidnappers of Prof. Kamene Okonjo, mother of the Coordinating Minister for the Economy and Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, who was kidnapped on Sunday in Delta State.
The kidnappers allegedly contacted the family on phone Monday afternoon and initially demanded to speak with the minister but were not allowed to do so. Instead, they were made to speak with the eldest son of the victim, Onyema, who relocated to Ogwashi-Uku on Monday to coordinate the safe release of his mother.
The minister, who was ready to travel down to Ogwashi-Uku was advised against the move by the security agents and the Delta state governor just as we learnt the abductors first demanded the resignation of the minister as a pre-condition for her mother’s release.
Onyema, it was learnt, insisted on speaking with his mother to ascertain the state of her health and to be sure that he was not dealing with impostors before he could negotiate with the abductors.
It was after he had spoken to his mother whom we gathered is in high spirits despite her traumatic ordeal, that the kidnappers changed their demand by asking that the minister of finance to bring the money the FG recovered from oil marketers who allegedly defrauded the country under the fuel subsidy regime.
Further negotiations with the kidnappers made them reduce the ransom from N1 billion to N200 million, it was learnt.