Nigeria Central Bank chief’s wife kidnapped, freed

Kidnapping for ransom is common in the country, particularly in the south, with the wealthy and expatriates often targeted

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The wife of Nigeria’s central bank governor was kidnapped and held for some 24 hours, police and security sources said on Saturday, in the latest high-profile abduction in the country’s south.

A federal police source in Abuja said Margaret Emefiele was seized on the road from Benin City in Edo state, southern Nigeria, to Agbor, in neighbouring Delta state, on Thursday.

“Five other persons were kidnapped along with her,” said the source. “They are her driver and four other women with whom she was travelling.”

Security officials secured her release at about 12:30 am on Saturday (2330 GMT Friday) and she was taken to the Delta state police headquarters in Asaba. The other four people were also freed.

Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) spokesman Isaac Okoroafor told AFP he did not have more details but confirmed: “She has been released.”

Margaret Emefiele’s husband, Godwin, became CBN governor in March 2014, replacing Lamido Sanusi, who was dismissed after claiming the state-run oil firm had not remitted $20 billion in revenue.

Governor Emefiele has since had to face the fallout from an oil-dependent economy hit by the global fall in crude prices, which has led Nigeria into recession, weakened its currency and sent inflation spiralling.

Kidnapping for ransom is common in Nigeria, particularly in southern states. Wealthy Nigerians and expatriates are often targeted and released after several days.

In March 2015, gunmen abducted the younger brother of the then-oil minister Diezani Alison-Madueke in Bayelsa state, which borders Delta state to the south.

Six months earlier her sister was seized in Port Harcourt, the capital of next door Rivers state and centre of Nigeria’s oil industry.

In early 2014, an elderly uncle of president Goodluck Jonathan was kidnapped in Bayelsa while in 2012, the mother of Jonathan’s finance minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala was abducted.

All were later released or rescued.

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