- The abducted mother of the Speaker of Bayelsa State Assembly in the Niger Delta region has been finally freed after spending more than a week in captivity. She was abducted at her home in the state capital of Yenagoa on 24 July.
The Speaker, Werinipre Seibarugu, was in South Africa at the time of the abduction. He had to return home upon hearing the shocking news.
After mounting protests over the abduction, the abductors asked for a ransom of 290,000 euro for the release of the 70-year-old Hansel Seibarugu, but Seibarugu refused to pay anything, insisting he had no money.
It is not clear whether the Speaker has maintained his defiance.
Lawmakers offered solidarity to the Speaker by embarking on a hunger strike to demonstrate their disgust at the awful phenomenon of hostage taking in the troubled region. Sittings were adjourned for a week and all lawmakers wore black suits to draw national and international attention to the crime.
The news of the abduction has put many Nigerians on the lip-service, asking what interest would the kidnappers want out of traumatising the poor old woman. It is rumoured from some quarters that the latest act is a yet another fall-out in the local politics.
At first, hostage taking began with oil expatriates, but that is no longer the case, as innocent babies and toddlers have become victims of an endemic menace in the Niger Delta. In some cases, lives were lost in the efforts to rescue hostages.
Hostage taking has even become a fast-growing industry in the region, with different criminal groups competing. This violent and other crimes are undoubtedly taking enormous toll on the socio-economic activity of the oil-rich region grappling with threats of high unemployment rate, alarming poverty, among others.
During his inaugural speech, President Umaru Yar’Adua, vowed to bring back sanity to Niger Delta. The issue also ranked high on his campaign agenda. The Nigerian leader has assigned his Vice President Goodluck Jonathan, who hails from the region, to peacefully engage the forces at play in the crisis before a scheduled national summit on Niger Delta takes place.
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