Okonjo family members have established communication with kidnappers of Prof. Kamene Okonjo, the mother of Nigeria's Finance Minister, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala.
Eighty-three-year-old Kamene Okonjo was kidnapped Monday. It was also learnt that the kidnappers had also reduced their ransom from $ 1 billion to $ 1.26 million.
A highly-placed security source told reporters that secret negotiation had commenced with the kidnappers because of the fragile health of the retired professor of Sociology and pressure from higher quarters.
It was also learnt that the abductors are demanding the immediate resignation of Dr. Okonjo-Iweala as Finance Minister. This demand gives reason to suspect that the kidnap may be politically motivated.
Delta State Commissioner of Police, Mr. Ikechukwu Aduba, in an interview on Wednesday in Asaba, after a meeting with his Divisional Police Officers, expressed confidence that the detained professor would be rescued soon.
The CP said, “We are looking at the whole place because in any palace, there are supposed to be palace guards – that is local security before you talk of that of the police.
“And so, we are looking at the obvious flaws and then, take the necessary action. We do not want to jump the gun. In the past, we have been able to rescue about 30 people without payment of ransom. “I am sure that the strategy we are putting in place will yield dividends.
“We know that anything that has to do with kidnapping, there is always an insider factor. It has always been there, just like armed robbery.”
Aduba added that the police had extended their dragnet “within and without”.
A source said the kidnappers decided to delay contact with the Okonjo family as a result of heavy deployment of policemen, army and other security operatives around the palace and the community immediately after the kidnap
On Wednesday, it was, however, observed that the heavy security presence in the last few days around the home of the Okonjos in Ogbe-Ofu quarters had been relaxed.
But the policemen refused visitors access to the compound, saying, “No visitor is wanted here.” Traditional chiefs that make up the Obi-in-Council met behind closed doors at the palace grounds in connection with the kidnap of the Obi’s wife.
Undercover security operatives flooded drinking joints, markets and public places in search of useful information.
Sources told our correspondent on Wednesday that the investigators had also invited some domestic workers of the Okonjos for interrogation as it was believed that some of them might have connived with the kidnapppers to carry out the operation.