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Kidnappers appeared to have returned to the highways in Ondo State after a period of calm, with the abduction of the family members of a monarch, the Orunja of Odigbo, on Saturday along Owo-Oba-Ikare Akoko road while on their way to Akungba-Akoko.

Those abducted were his wife, Regina Akinrinmade, his two daughters and his driver.

The kidnappers demanded N100 million ransom but reduced it to N60 million following the inability of the monarch to raise the sum.

The Odofin of Odigbo Kingdom, Olu Akinsawe, confirmed this development to journalists on Tuesday.

“They are still in the kidnappers’ den as I speak; the security agencies don’t know their whereabouts,” said Mr Akinsawe.

“The abductors have reduced their ransom from N100 million to N60 million. We have been praying for their safety; we, therefore, appeal to the abductors to release them unhurt.”

He also called on the state government and security agencies in the area to help in rescuing the monarch’s family from their abductors.

The police command in Ondo State said the incident is being tackled to ensure the victims were released unhurt.

“We also want to state that the kidnap incident that happened few days ago along Owo/Ikare road after a long period of peace and normalcy in that axis of the state, is being tackled head-on by our officers who have been charged to not only rescue the victims unhurt, but also arrest the perpetrators of this wicked act,” said Femi Joseph, the Police Public Relations Officer.

He also assured that people coming home for Christmas and New Year celebrations should not entertain any anxiety as there has been an increase in the manpower deployment cross the state.

He said the police’s intelligence department had been directed “to up the ante” in order to ensure blissful Christmas and New Year celebrations.

“We also promise to continue to work towards ridding the state of all vestiges of crimes and criminality,” he said.

“We shall also ensure that criminals are not only arrested but are also brought to Justice. To this end, 13 suspects among others still at large, who participated in the wanton destruction of lives and properties including the burning of Sotitobire Church and the killing of one of our officers recently, were arraigned.

“The court consequently remanded them at the correctional centre Olokuta while the case was adjourned till 3rd January, 2020. We will ensure that other accomplices at large are arrested and also made to bear the full weight of the law. We urge all law-abiding citizens to go about celebrating peacefully and also be security conscious.”

Earlier in the month, two Catholic priests were abducted by gunmen along Owo-Benin road in Ose Local Government Area.

The priests, Joseph Nweke and Felix Efobi, were kidnapped after which their abductors demanded N100 million as ransom.

The clergymen were from Awka Catholic Diocese in Anambra State and were travelling for a wedding engagement when the incident occurred.

They were released three days later.

Mr Joseph said no ransom was paid for their release.

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