Nigerian finance minister's mother kidnapped

ABUJA Sun Dec 9, 2012 2:25pm EST

Nigeria's Finance Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala speaks during an interview with Reuters in her office in the capital Abuja August 24, 2012. REUTERS/Afolabi Sotunde

Nigeria's Finance Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala speaks during an interview with Reuters in her office in the capital Abuja August 24, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Afolabi Sotunde

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ABUJA (Reuters) - Kidnappers snatched the mother of Nigerian Finance Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala near her home in southeast Nigeria on Sunday, security sources said.

Two security sources, one in the capital Abuja and another in the southeast's Delta state, said the abductors took the septuagenarian Kamene Okonjo-Iweala from the family home in Ogbe-Ofu, Delta state.

It was not clear whether the motive was political or ransom-seeking, they said. The source in Abuja said three people had already been arrested in connection with the kidnapping. He had no further details.

Nigeria is one of the worst countries in the world for kidnapping, a lucrative criminal enterprise worth millions of dollars a year. Abductions are most rife in the oil states, especially Delta state, where Okonjo-Iweala's family is from, but they are also common throughout the south, including in the commercial capital Lagos.

Kidnapping for political reasons is less common, though it does occur. Gangs operate throughout the Niger Delta, which is home to Africa's largest oil industry. The majority of people abducted are Nigerians but foreign oil and construction workers have also been frequent targets.

Local newspapers carry a story about a new kidnapping almost every day, often of professionals or relatives of politicians, but rarely anyone as high profile as the finance minister's mother.

(Reporting by Tim Cocks and Camillus Eboh; Editing by Stephen Powell)

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