Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Police Officers On Kidnapping case Probed

Nigerian police officers who were not at their assigned posts at the home of the mother of the country’s finance minister when she was kidnapped are being probed for misconduct, a spokesman said Wednesday.

The mother of Finance Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, who is also a former World Bank managing director, was abducted Sunday at her home in Delta state in the country’s south, where ransom kidnappings occur regularly.

Police said Wednesday they were continuing searches for 82-year-old Kamene Okonjo.

Two police officers who were meant to be on duty at the house — locally called a “palace” due to her husband’s position as a traditional ruler in the area — were absent, police spokesman Charles Muka said.

“They were supposed to be on duty at the palace, but they were not there,” Muka told AFP, adding they were being investigated internally for misconduct. He would not provide further details.

Local media reported that a gang of gunmen went to the house in broad daylight in the afternoon.

When Kamene Okonjo, a professor, went outside to offer drinks to labourers carrying out work around the front gate, the gunmen emerged from hiding and seized her.

Kidnappings for ransom have occurred frequently in Nigeria’s southern oil-producing Niger Delta region, but rarely with such prominent victims.

Okonjo-Iweala, who was a candidate to head the World Bank earlier this year, has pushed to clean up corruption in one of the world’s most graft-ridden nations, particularly related to a fuel subsidy programme.

The minister has been in a high-profile struggle with fuel importers over payment of subsidies, with government officials delaying payments to allow for verification of claims.
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