The Secretary to the Bayelsa State Government, Rt. Hon. Kombowei Friday Benson has clarified that the sum of N4 million which was paid to the abductors of his mother, Madam Betinah Benson, was a gift to the kidnappers and not ransom.
The SSG who made the clarification in Yenagoa after his mother rejoined her family, also said in addition to the money, he gave them two Android phones as the complete package for the token gift.
The former Speaker of the State Assembly said since the abduction of his mother, the family had been traumatized but thanked God for her safe release and return home.
He said: “Mama was abducted on the 20th of last month and since then I have been worried, going here and there, working with the security people. Today, I can categorically say that Mama is back to the house and I am happy over that.
“I want to give thanks to God and to the security men, the Commissioner of Police and his team and again the DSS Director and his team. In fact, I lack words to express how I feel at this moment, I’m so happy that my mother is back and we pray that God Almighty will keep mama for us and we also pray that this should not happen again”.
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Benson told newsmen that despite the fact that five members of his family had in the past been victims of kidnapping in the state, he vowed never to pay ransom but trusted in the security agencies and God to secure the release of his mother.
“Even if I tell people that ransom was not paid, they will not believe me. When they demanded for N500million, I stood my ground. Even when I say I will not pay, I gave them a token to allow mama come back home,” he said.
Reacting to the development, the state commissioner of police, Echeng Eworo Echeng, said that the pressure from the security agencies led to the release of the SSG’s octogenarian mother.
His words: “Her release was through the collaborative efforts of all the security agencies in the state that worked together in synergy and we were able to pick some of those behind the kidnapping. The pressure that we gave them led to her release and she is safely back home. She is healthy and am sure after this moment she will undergo medical evaluation.
“Our message to all those involved in this heinous act is that it is a crime and no matter how far you go the law will catch up with you and you will be dealt with accordingly. And I want to emphasize that no money was paid for this particular rescue”, he said.
Madam Benson, while narrating how she was abducted, also expressed gratitude to God and security agencies for securing her release from the kidnappers, adding that though her abductors treated her well, she was happy to be back home safe and well.