For the 78-year-old mother of the Bayelsa State House of Assembly speaker, Mrs. Betinah Okunwa Benson, the act of praying was not entirely new to her and her family members, including her son, Hon. Kombowei Benson.
When she was kidnapped by gunmen and kept in their den in the dark and smelling creeks of Delta State for eight days, she turned into a prayer warrior and went on dry fasting with supplication to God for her freedom and safety.
Last Monday, her prayers were answered as her abductors handed her over to family members near Sagbama town in Sagbama Local Government Area of the state at 10pm without any ransom allegedly paid.
The speaker, Hon. Friday Benson, who expressed his gratitude to God for His mercies on the life of his aged mother, described her unconditional release as an act of God. He thanked the governor, the deputy governor and well-wishers and ministers of God for their roles in his mother’s release.
While narrating her ordeal in the hands of the kidnappers, Mama Benson said she was praying throughout the period even though she was blindfolded by her captors, who abducted with a speed boat.
The kidnappers had stormed the country home of the Bensons at Korokorosei in Southern Ijaw Local Government Area of Bayelsa State at 12.30am and took the victim away.
Relieving his ordeal during the eight-day abduction of his mother, Benson said his mother was released in good condition. He said the family members were yet to overcome the psychological trauma experienced during the period, and thanked God for sparing the life of their mother. It was said that the kidnappers, who had initially sounded very rude and insulting to him on phone, later shifted from their hard line posture as they agreed to free the old woman.
On the possibility of the family members paying the N40 million ransom demanded by the abductors, Bello said no money was paid for her freedom.“There was nothing like payment of ransom. How much do you want to give to these boys that will satisfy them? It was the pressure by the security agents,our prayers and pleas to them that made them to release Mama. No ransom was paid to anyone,” Mr. Benson said.
The state government, in a statement issued on Monday night and signed by the chief press secretary to the governor, Mr. Daniel Iworiso-Markson, said: “From the facts at our disposal, it is clear that some failed politicians, especially the arrow heads of those who have lost out in the power equation in the state, are working hard behind the scene with some forces outside the state to sponsor kidnapping of innocent citizens in Bayelsa State.
“Their aim is not only to scare away investors and stall development but also to make the state ungovernable and give the impression that the government of the day is incapable of securing the lives and property of citizens. The government of Henry Dickson has not only given top priority to security, it has also shown enough political will in protecting the lives and property in the state.”