The six foreign sailors who were abducted by unknown gunmen on Koluama waterways in Bayelsa State’s Southern Ijaw Local Government Area nine days ago have regained their freedom.
Sources told SaharaReporters that the ransom paid was N1 million, a considerable discount from the N200m originally demanded by the kidnappers, but the police deny that even one kobo was paid to them.
A reporter learned that the men: two Indians, one Russian and three Ukrainians were freed last night after the leader of the gang, who was identified merely as Ngopi, picked up the N1m.
Informed sources in the security services said that the Azuzuama community in the local council area facilitated the release of the expatriates from the creeks.
One source, who did not want to be identified, said, "The government through the community prevailed on the kidnappers to release their victims. But the ringleader of the kidnappers said that since they had fed the expatriates for some days, they needed some money to set them free. He later collected N1m."
Disputing that account, the State Commissioner of Police, Mr. Kingsley Omire, said in a telephone interview that nothing was paid to secure the freedom of the expatriates.
"The expatriates have been released. They were released in good condition and no ransom was paid to secure their freedom", he said.
The foreigners were abducted on February 17 when the bandits attacked an oil vessel, MV Armada Tuah 101, property of a Lagos oil servicing and marine firm, Century Group of Company. The kidnappers later contacted the company and demanded N200m as ransom.
An observer said that the version of the release being told by the police may simply be ignorant rather than wrong, as they usually do not know what is going on, only to try to assert their relevance when release has been achieved.
Source: Sahara Reporters