Lagos, Nigeria - A cousin of Nigeria's President Goodluck Jonathan has been kidnapped by gunmen in his hometown of Otuoke in the country's oil-rich Bayelsa state, the local Punch newspaper reported Tuesday.
Inengite Nitabai, 70, was abducted on Sunday evening by 10 suspected kidnappers, who stormed his residence.
The gunmen took the President's cousin away even after his wife, Owiya, had given them 400,000 naira (US$2,400).
An eyewitness, Akinobebh Jin, was quoted as saying: “They (gunmen) asked our father (Nitabai) to bring money. He told them he did not have any. They were furious and they said, ‘how can you say you do not have money? You, a President’s cousin!’ That was how they started hitting his head with the butt of their gun butt.'
The spokesman for the Joint Military Task Force operating in the Niger Delta oil region, Col. Onyema Nwachukwu, confirmed the abduction, saying: “Information available to me is that a certain Chief Inengite Nitabai was abducted by about 10 unknown gunmen about 9pm (local time) at Otuoke community in Ogbia Local Government Area using his private vehicle.'
PANA reports that kidnapping for ransom, targetting the rich as well as politicians and their family members, is rampant in Nigeria.
Abducted persons are usually freed unharmed after the payment of ransom, but such payments are rarely publicly admitted.
On a few occasion, abducted persons have been killed even after ransom payment.