The Nigerian Finance Minister Okonjo Iweala suffered a traumatic experience when her 83 year old mother was abducted on 09 December 2012 and subsequently released.
In her first public comments since her 82-year-old mother’s release, Mrs Okonjo-Iweala said the kidnappers mentioned her battle against a multi-billion dollar fuel scam. The press conference took place yesterday in Abuja after her mother Kamene Okonjo was freed. Kamene Okonjo was released on Friday after gunmen held her for five days with no food and water, requesting amongst other things the resignation of the Finance Minister.
Here is what she had to say at the conference:
“I can’t give all the details because we don’t want to compromise ongoing investigations. But I can tell you one thing: my mother suffered a great deal during this ordeal. It was only the Almighty that rescued her from a situation that could very easily have ended tragically. Apart from the emotional trauma of being violently taken away from her family and kept incommunicado for five days in a strange environment, a woman of 83 years was left without food for five days.
“While she was in their custody, the kidnappers spent much of the time harassing her. They told her that I must get on the radio and television and announce my resignation. When she asked why, they told her it was because I did not pay oil subsidy money.
“They also said I had blocked payment of money to certain components of the Subsidy Reinvestment and Empowerment Programme.”
“These statements are, of course, not true. In the case of subsidy payments, we have been paying all marketers whose claims have been verified by the Aig-Imoukhuede Committee after going through the necessary processes.
“For marketers whose transactions are proven to be fraudulent, the position of the Goodluck Jonathan government is also clear: we cannot and we will not pay. We will not back down on this. We will continue to stand firm.”
“In the case of SURE-P, there is a totally different process that I have no control over. This is the right thing to do. And this, I believe is what the Nigerian people want.”
“This experience has strengthened my faith in the country. The outpouring of love from all over the country has been simply overwhelming.”
“We will not back down on this. We will continue to stand firm.”