From Patrick Odey, Uyo
Kidnappers of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) official in Akwa Ibom State, Otobong Sylvester Ukpong, have announced a reduction in their ransom demand to N.5million.
Ukpong was abducted by armed hoodlums last week at the volatile Uruk Ata 2 portion of the Ekparakwa-Azumini Highway on his way to work at Ukanafun Local Government Area.
The abductors had earlier demanded for N10million, but on Thursday, a senior member of his family, said that the kidnappers had reduced the money to N500,000.
He however said that the family could only raise N200,000.
He told journalists from his Iwukem village in Etim Ekpo Local Government Area, where the victim hails from, that the “negotiation to release Ukpong is ongoing.
“In the last discussion we had with them through my brother’s (Otobong’s) phone, the militants had reduced the initial ransom of N10million to N500,000 and we are still negotiating to what we can afford,” he said.
The state Commissioner of Police, Mr. Adeyemi Ogunjemilusi, said that security operatives drawn from the Police, Navy, Army and the Department of State Services (DSS) had been despatched to track down the suspects with a view to freeing Ukpong.
Ogunjemilusi said that ground operations to apprehend the criminals were being “hampered by the difficult terrain and lack of equipment.”
He however assured the people that “security agencies were working to restore peace in the troubled communities of Etim Ekpo and Ukanafun”.
The Police Public Relations Officer, Mr. Odiko Macdon Ogbeche, said that efforts had been intensified by security agencies to dislodge the hoodlums from the affected areas.
According to him, several suspects had been arrested in connection with the abduction of the INEC official and others seized, adding that “the suspects are helping the Police on their investigation.”