Some unknown gunmen have abducted President Goodluck Jonathan’s cousin, Chief Inengite Nitabai, in Otuoke, Bayelsa State.
Otuoke is the home state of President 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 Sunday.
It was learnt that when the gunmen stormed the residence of the 70-year-old Nitabai, they initially met one of the victim’s children.
A reliable family source, who craved anonymity, told PUNCH Metro that the boy, whose name he gave simply as Silas, quickly ran into the house to alert his father and other members of the family because it was strange to see visitors at the time of the day.
The source explained that six of the assailants, however, forced their way into the house, while the remaining four stayed outside.
He said the suspected kidnappers ordered Nitabai, his wife, Owiya, Nitabai’s in-law, Akinobebh Jin and Nitabai’s three children to face down.
The source said some of the kidnappers took Nitabai to one side of the house, while the remaining took Owiya to the upper floor.
Corroborating the source’s account, Jin said they asked Nitabai to bring money and when 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 N400,000 that they stopped beating the 70-year-old man. He added that they later 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 to tell us.
“As he was telling us, the bandits entered the house and ordered all of us to lie flat on the floor.
“They 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.
“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. 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 took our father (Nitabai) away.”
Owiya said the hoodlums locked them inside the house as they drove away with Nitabai.
It was learnt that one of Nitabai’s children, who was not around when the gunmen came, later freed the household.
The 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 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, had also visited the crime scene.
Opara said he and his men had been working tireless since the incident happened.
He said the police had alerted other sister security agencies, adding two gunboats had been stationed at the Onuebum waterside, while the police had so far patrolled Edebiri, Kiambiri, Anyama and Ogobiri creeks.
Opara said two suspects had been arrested 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.
At the house of the victim, plain-clothes security operatives, soldiers and mobile policemen were seen on guard.
Also, Armoured Tanks were stationed at Jonathan’s mansion and his wife’s hotel, opposite the Federal University, Otuoke.