The 78-year-old mother of Mr. Kombowei Benson, the Speaker of the Nigeria’s oil-rich state, Bayelsa House of Assembly, kidnapped eight days ago, has regained her freedom.
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Madam Betinah Okunwa Benson was freed at about 10pm last night. It was not clear at press time if the N40million Naira ransom demanded by her abductors was paid by the Speaker to secure his mother’s freedom.
The details about how she was released, like most of high-profile kidnap cases in Nigeria, remained sketchy. However, Mr. Preye Kariamo, spokesman of the Speaker, who confirmed the freedom of the old woman on telephone, said she was handed over to members of her family by the officials of Sagbama Local Government Council hale and hearty.
When asked if the N40million ransom was paid to the abductors as earlier demanded to secure her release, the spokesman said, "No ransom was paid to secure her release. She is hale and hearty and has re-united with her children."
Madam Betinah Okunwa Benson was kidnapped at her country home Korokorosei in Southern Ijaw Local Government Area of Bayelsa State a week ago by about 10 gunmen in two speed boats.
In a statement by the Speaker on the reasons given by the Kidnappers for abducting his mother, he said they were aggrieved that the State Assembly under his watch passed the anti-cultism bill which threatens their operations. He was allegedly accused of interfering in the affairs of the Community Development Committees (CDCs) in the state. The abductors also complained that the House of Assembly was not operating in unity.