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Kidnappers free Nigeria minister's mother, official says

Source: Thomson Reuters Foundation - Fri, 14 Dec 2012 09:44 AM
Author: Reuters
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ABUJA, Dec 14 (Reuters) - Kidnappers freed the 82-year-old mother of Nigerian Finance Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala on Friday, five days after she was taken from her home in southeastern Nigeria, a senior security official said.

"She has been released now by her captors and she is at home," said the source, who had confirmed Kamene Okonjo's kidnapping on Sunday in Delta state.

He gave no further details. It was not clear if the abduction of Okonjo was political or for financial gain. Her daughter has served twice as finance minister and was also a director at the World Bank.

Nigeria's army said on Thursday that soldiers had arrested 63 people in raids conducted during the search for Okonjo.

Kidnapping is rife in Africa's top oil producer, making millions of dollars a year for the criminal gangs who engage in it. It is common across the south, especially in the oil producing Niger Delta where Okonjo was abducted.

The number of kidnappings also tends to surge in December, when the criminals need money for year-end festivities.

Political motives had been suggested for the abduction. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala's drive to reform a corrupt economy ruffled powerful vested interests, especially fuel importers, and her mother was involved in local politics.

Nigerian authorities never discuss whether or not ransoms are paid. (Reporting by Camillus Eboh; Writing by Tim Cocks; Editing by Tom Pfeiffer)

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