The Delta State Government has denied involvement in paying any money as ransom for the release Mr. Ebikeme Clark, son of elder statesman, Chief Edwin Clark, who was kidnapped and released a few days ago.
The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) had alleged in a statement that the state government provided the sum of N500million as ransom for Ebikemeâ€™s release and that the kidnap was orchestrated by the victim himself and the police to swindle the state government of the money.
But in a reaction to the weighty allegations, the Secretary to the Delta State Government (SSG), Mr. Ovuozorie Macaulay, in a statement yesterday, said the state government did not give any ransom for the release of the junior Clark, saying such insinuation was â€œfoolish.â€
According to Macaulay, the state government has a standing policy of not paying ransom to kidnappers and as such, did not pay money for Ebikemeâ€™s release.
â€œIt is the policy of the state government not to pay or encourage the payment of ransom by families as this encourages kidnapping. The state government has had previous cases of high profile kidnappings that the victims have been kept much longer than that of Ebikeme. The government did not pay any ransom. What then is so special about Ebikeme that will make the state government pay ransom?
â€œSecondly, the volume of money being mentioned, (N500 mllion), makes the allegation very foolish for anyone who knows how government runs and the logistics of that volume of fund movement, considering the fact that there were only two working days during the period,â€ he said.
He added that the claim by MEND was a mere blackmail. â€œFrom the statement by the so called MEND, it is obvious that they are out not just to blackmail the state government but also Chief Clark and the amnesty programme of the federal government,â€ Macaulay said.
While admonishing members of MEND to desist from â€œtactics of blackmail, falsehood, rumour mongering and intimidation in the region the SSG said the Niger-Delta region is currently in a phase of infrastructure and human capital development, which require â€œall hands to be on deck.â€