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Abducted retired Customs officer freed, hospitalised

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A retired Deputy Comptroller of the Nigeria Customs Service, Mr Mohammed Zarma, who was kidnapped last Thursday on his farm at Oke Jia, Egbejila, Kwara State, has been released by his abductors.

Zarma, a fish farmer, was said to have been picked up by his family members in a forest on Monday along the Ilorin-Ogbomoso Expressway after payment of an undisclosed amount as ransom to the abductors.

The state Police Public Relations Officer, Ajayi Okasanmi, who confirmed the development, however, did not say if any ransom was paid.

A source close to the retired officer said he was released on Monday night and was recuperating in a private hospital.

Although it was not clear how much was paid, the source said the abductors had initially demanded N10m, which was later reduced to N6m.

In a related development, three persons kidnapped along the Obbo Ayegunle/Osi Road in the Ekiti Local Government Area of the state last week, including a mechanic, Sunday Balogun, and his apprentices, Taiye and his twin brother, Kehinde, have yet to be freed by their abductors.

The pregnant wife of the mechanic, identified only as Mary, was, however, brought out of the forest a few hours after the kidnap by security operatives drafted for a rescue operation.

A family member of the mechanic, Mrs Laoye Seyifunmi, said the hoodlums abandoned Sunday’s vehicle by the roadside after the incident.

Another family source said the kidnappers had contacted the family and demanded N10m as ransom.

“We have been able to negotiate it to N4m. Although the family and the community have been able to gather N2m, they rejected it and said a Toyota Sienna in his workshop should be sold to pay the ransom,” the source added.

A top security source confirmed the incident, adding that the wife of the mechanic had been freed.

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