Kidnap ransoms for the release of human rights activist and lawyer, Chief Mike Ozekhome (SAN) and the All Progressives Congress leader in Edo North, Athanasius Ogbome, has been named, with the abductors said to demand the sum of N250m in total.
It was said that the abductors contacted the relations of their victims, demanding N150m for Ozekhome’s release within three days and N100m for Ogbome’s release.
The victims, who all hail from Edo North, were abducted between Ehor and Iruekpen, along the Benin-Auchi road, last Friday.
However, as the stories of the ransom demands were making the rounds, Pius, Ozekhome’s elder brother was said to have told a confidant that no family member had been contacted.
A close friend of Ugbome, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, nevertheless, confided in our correspondent that his abductors demanded N100m for his release.
The friend said the abductors called him and demanded N100m ransom for Ogbome’s release.
He said, “They initiated contact on Sunday but they have not called again. This man (Ogbome) has health condition that requires constant attention.
“He is a good person and not a moneybag; they should please release him unconditionally.”
Meanwhile youths from Iviukwe, Ozekhome’s community, on Tuesday protested against his kidnap on major streets of Benin, demanding his unconditional release.
Speaking on behalf of the protesting youths, Issa Adidi, said, “Ozekhome has been on the side of the masses; he has worked for the downtrodden.
“We are not giving ultimatum to the kidnappers, but we are appealing to them for him to be released unconditionally.”
When contacted for developments on the matter, Edo State Police Public Relations Officer, Moses Eguavoen, said the police was “seriously monitoring the situation and we are still on search.”
On the ransom demand, Eguavoen, a Deputy Superintendent of Police, said the command was unaware.
Meanwhile, Catholic Bishop of Sokoto Diocese, Mathew Kukah, has described the kidnap of the human rights activist as shocking and “too much punishment for someone who has sacrificed so much for the country.”
“I beg the abductors, for God’s mercies and for the peace of the souls of those gallant police officers, who surrendered their lives, to release the victims,” Kukah said in a statement.
Similarly, human rights lawyer, Mr. Bamidele Aturu, said on Tuesday that Ozekhome deserved no harm.
Aturu, in a statement, pleaded with the abductors to release Ozekhome, who he said, had made significant contributions towards achieving a decent society.
In their opinion, the Coalition Against Corrupt Leaders said the abduction was an evidence of the high rate of insecurity in the country.
Executive Chairman of the coalition, Debo Adeniran, who lamented the high rate of insecurity in the country on Tuesday in Lagos, called for a sober reflection from Nigerians.
He said, “The state of insecurity in the country should be a cause for concern to well-meaning Nigerians. This is an evidence of security lapses in the country.”