UPDATED: SSS arrests suspected kidnappers of President Jonathan’s uncle

The Department of State Services (DSS), alias SSS, says it has arrested six suspects in connection with the February 23 abduction of Nengite Nitabai, the 70-year old uncle of President Goodluck Jonathan.

The spokesperson for the service, Marilyn Ogar, announced the breakthrough in the investigation into the matter in Abuja on Thursday.

Ms Ogar said the suspects included an undergraduate, a graduate, a native doctor and three others.

She said after Mr. Nitabai was kidnapped, he was taken to two different locations in Bayelsa creeks, very close to the mouth of the Atlantic Ocean.

She said he was held in captivity for 17 days before being released “without payment of ransom”.

Ms. Ogar explained that the 30-year-old undergraduate suspect, a 400-level student of the University of Jos, was the leader of the kidnap gang.

She said that the suspect masterminded the kidnap with a take-off grant of N40,000 for the procurement of arms and other logistics.

Ms. Ogar said the suspect, who is a herbalist, confessed that one other member of the gang and three unknown persons visited him for purpose of preparing medicine their fortification and success in their plan to kidnap “a rich man, who resides in Bayelsa’’.

“That he (herbalist) played along with them to save himself and family,’’ she said.

She also said that he confessed that they reached an agreement that 10 per cent of the ransom would be given to him.

The DSS spokeswoman restated the need for the public to be vigilant and be alert to their environment, saying that issues of security should not be left to security agencies alone.

“The peace, unity and security of our dear country should be our collective responsibility.

“I wish to restate that the long arm of the law will always catch up with perpetrators of crime in Nigeria, no matter how long it takes,’’ she said.

The mastermind of the kidnap admitted before newsmen that he provided the money to acquire logistics for the operation.

He, however, said that he was contracted by a suspect, who is now at large, to carry out surveillance on their victim with promise that after the deal he would be rewarded.

Mr. Nitabai, a community leader in Otuoke, Ogbia Local Government Area of Bayelsa, was on February 23 abducted by gunmen and taken to an unknown destination.

He was rescued by the police on March 13 in Odioma community, Brass Local Government Area of the state, according to the Bayelsa state Commissioner of Police, Hilary Okpara.

Mr. Okpara said at the time that six suspects, including a traditional ruler believed to be the father of the leader of the kidnap gang, were arrested in connection with the abduction.

The police commissioner did not disclose the names of the suspect at the time, and it’s unclear if the set of suspects arrested by the SSS is different from those nabbed by the police.

It also remains clear if any ransom was paid to free Mr. Nitabai at the time, as the police wouldn’t say.

The kidnappers had demanded a N500 million ransom, with the family offering to pay N30 million, a sum the abductors reportedly refused.

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