Mrs. Benedicta Ese Mike Okeme, wife of the former Delta State Chairman of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and Special Adviser to Governor Ifeanyi Okowa on Labour and SERVICOM, who was kidnapped by unknown gunmen last week, has regained her freedom.
SaharaReporters reliably learnt that Mrs. Okeme was abducted by eight-man gang of armed kidnappers at about 8:00 pm around Ogbeke Square, Asaba, the state capital on May 22 and taken to an unknown destination, from where her abductors linked up with her husband, Mr. Mike Okeme, to demand a N100million ransom.
Sources close to the former NLC boss and fellowship in the same Catholic church in Asaba disclosed that after a weeklong bargain with the kidnappers, the N100million was lowered to N40million and was allegedly paid by governor Ifeanyi Okowa after which Mrs. Okeme regained her freedom Wednesday night.
"Governor Okowa was so troubled over the kidnapping of Comrade Okeme's wife. Of course you know the governor closeness with Okeme and the governor wouldn't take chances, and had no option than to release the N40 million for the immediate release of Mrs. Okeme. You know Okeme is the governors' right-hand man because of the manner he handles workers for him whenever there are disputes," Okeme's ally confided in SaharaReporters.
"Right from the time the kidnappers contacted the husband and began the ransom bargain, the Governor was carried along till the kidnappers pegged their ransom demand at N40million. For the Governor, he wouldn't want any further delay to avoid putting Okeme's wife in danger. And that was why the money was released and on Wednesday night she got her freedom."
When contacted, Mr. Mike Okeme confirmed the release of his wife, saying a ransom was paid but not to the tune of N40million. However, when asked to mention the actual amount paid, he declined.
"It is not true that N40 million ransom was paid to free her; definitely a ransom was paid," he said. "She was freed yesterday Wednesday night at about 8:30pm and was she was dropped the Otovwodo park in Ughelli. Series of test have been carried on her and we are awaiting the results. By Sunday, we are have a thanksgiving in Asaba."