Gunmen kidnap Jonathan’s cousin in Bayelsa

The Otuoke community in Bayelsa State was on Sunday thrown into pandemonium when unknown gunmen abducted President Goodluck Jonathan’s cousin, Chief Inengite Nitabai. Otuoke is the home state of President Goodluck Jonathan and Nitabai is the President’s adopted father. Nitabai, who is said to be the compound chief of Jonathan’s family, was abducted by 10 suspected kidnappers about 9pm on the fateful day. It was learnt that when the gunmen stormed the residence of the 70-year-old Nitabai, they met an adolescent boy, one of the victim’s children, doing his assignment. A reliable family source, who craved anonymity, told PUNCH Metro that the boy, whose name he gave simply as Silas, was shocked to see the strange men in their house at that time. The source said Silas quickly ran into the house to alert his father and other members of the family to his observation. He said while six of the assailants forced their way into the house, the remaining four stayed outside, monitoring activities. He said as soon as the suspected kidnappers got into the house, they ordered Nitabai, his wife, Owiya, Nitabai’s in-law, Akinobebh Jin and three children of Nitabai, to face down. The source said as that was on, some of them (kidnappers) took Nitabai to the other side and the other set took Owiya to the upstairs. Corroborating the source’s account, Jin said the kidnappers were brutal, stressing that when they asked Nitabai to bring money and he told them he did not have, they used the butt of the gun to hit his head. She said it was when Owiya gave them N 400,000 that they seized their brutality on Nitabai and quietly whisked him away in his Sports Utility Vehicle. The 37-year-old Jin said, “The (kidnappers) came to the house around 9pm. The time they came, Silas was doing his assignment. Because he saw them as strange people, he ran into the house out of fear to tell us what was amiss.“As he was telling us, the bandits swiftly moved into the house and ordered all of us to lie flat on the floor. We ran inside the kitchen, they followed us.“They asked our father (Nitabai) to bring money. He told them he did not have any money. They were furious when he told them he did not have money. ‘How can you say you do not have money? You, a President’s cousin. We cannot believe you.’ They that was how they started hitting their gun butt on his head.“After that, they went to where Madam (Owiya) was and asked her to bring money or else they would kill her. She told them she just came back from a trip and that she did not have enough money. They followed her upstairs to collect money from her. When they got upstairs, they started giving her the beating of her life. She gave them N400,000 and begged them to leave her husband. It was when they came down that they whisked our father (Nitabai).”As if that was not enough, Owiya said the hoodlums locked them inside and whisked Nitabai away. It was learnt that one of Nitabai’s children, who was not around when the gunmen came, was the one who freed the household by opening the padlock with his own key. When contacted, spokesman for the Joint Military Task Force, Col. Onyema Nwachukwu, confirmed the abduction. He said, “Information available to me is that a certain Chief Inengite Nitabai was abducted by about 10 unknown gunmen about 9pm at Otuoke community in Ogbia Local Government Area by using his private vehicle.“The vehicle was later recovered at Onuebum community waterfront. The Deputy Commander, JTF, Commodore Ime Ekpa and a team of security agents have visited the location to assess the crime scene.”He said investigation was in progress to unmask the kidnappers and rescue the victim. It was learnt that the Commissioner of Police, Mr. Hilary Opara, and the Deputy Commander, JTF, Commodore Ime Ekpa, had earlier visited the crime scene. Opara said he and his men had been working tireless since the incident happened. He said the police alerted other sister security agencies and prompted them to swing into action. He added that two gunboats had been stationed at the Onuebum water-side stressing that, that the police had so far patrolled Edebiri, Kiambiri, Anyama and Ogobiri creeks. Opara revealed that two suspects had been arrested so far in connection with the abduction.“The other two suspects saw my men and ran away. We will get them,” he said. When our correspondent visited Otuoke on Monday, it was noticed that riot policemen and soldiers drafted from the JTF were patrolling the community. On the premises of the victim, plain-clothes security operatives, soldiers and mobile policemen were on guard. Also, Armoured Tanks were stationed at Jonathan’s mansion and his wife’s hotel, opposite Federal University, Otuoke.

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