Kidnappers seize Nigerian president's uncle in southern oil state

by Reuters
Tuesday, 25 February 2014 13:51 GMT

YENAGOA, Nigeria, Feb 25 (Reuters) - Gunmen kidnapped a 70-year-old uncle of President Goodluck Jonathan from his residence in oil-producing Bayelsa state, police and presidency sources said on Tuesday, in a region swarming with kidnap-for-ransom gangs.

The 10 men invaded Chief Inengite Nitabai's compound at around 9 p.m. (2000 GMT) on Sunday in the village of Otuoke and bundled him into his own car before driving it off.

"The vehicle was later recovered at Onuebum community waterfront," said Commodore Ime Ekpa, the deputy commander of mixed military and police brigades in the area. "Efforts are being made to find the kidnappers and rescue the victim."

A presidency source said Nitabai is Jonathan's uncle. The presidency declined to officially comment.

Kidnapping for ransom is rife in southern Nigeria, particularly in the oil-producing Delta region, in the ethnic Igbo area to the north of it, and the commercial hub of Lagos.

The multi-million dollar criminal enterprise pushes up the insurance and security costs for businesses, including foreign oil majors who have often been targeted in the past.

The families of the politically connected have become favourite targets in the past few years. Kidnappers snatched the mother of Nigerian Finance Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala from her home in southeast Nigeria in December 2012 before releasing her a week later. (Reporting by Tife Owolabi; Writing by Tim Cocks; Editing by Joe Brock and Susan Fenton)

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