Kidnapped APC chief freed, Ozekhome’s release unconfirmed

The kidnapped All Progressive Congress chief in Edo North, Mr. Athanasius Ugbome, was on Sunday morning set free by his abductors.

Ugbome was seized same day with the human rights lawyer, Mike Ozekhome, along the Benin-Auchi Road on August 23.

Though there were speculations that Ozekhome was also set free, there was however no confirmation of the lawyer’s release as at the time of this report.

A source at the Edo State Police Command confirmed that Ugbome was released around 1am.

Confirming Ugbome’s release, his elder brother, Paschal, in an SMS to our correspondent, said, “Praise be to God, he has been released.”

Ugbome’s release came barely 24 hours after reported collaborative plans by the Edo State Police Command, led by Mr. Fuluso Adebanjo and his counterpart in Delta State, Ikechukwu Aduba, to secure the victims’ release unhurt.

Meanwhile, there was jubilation in Ozekhome’s home community,  Oviukwe, in Etsako East Local Government Area, on Sunday over rumoured release of the lawyer.

The jubilation followed a news item on the radio that the lawyer had been released but a competent source in the police command headquarters told The PUNCH that Ozekhome had not been released.

The Edo police denied knowledge of any ransom paid to secure the release of Ugbome but a source close to the family of the politician said the kidnappers collected N10m to set free their captive.

Meanwhile, the Zonal Coordinator of the North East Bishopric of the Church of God Mission International Incorporated, Rev. Great Nkem, has said that the Federal Government has the capacity to put a stop to the spate of kidnapping in the country.

Nkem who spoke in Jos on Sunday during the celebration of his 20 years in the pulpit and the presentation of his book, ‘The emergence of True Worshippers,’ however said what the government lacked to stop the menace was the determination.

He condemned the kidnapping of prominent Nigerians, including the recent seizure of the Archbishop of Niger Delta Province of the Anglican Communion in Nigeria, Archbishop Ignatius Kattey and his wife.

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