A man in police custody who allegedly led the kidnappers to Mrs. Okonjo’s compound a few minutes before the incident took place was said to have informed the housemaid that he was in the palace to take the queen mother to somewhere in the town for a traditional event.
Other kidnappers numbering 10 were lurking around the palace until Mrs. Okonjo and her maid came down to offer refreshments to some men working to fix the palace gate.
Eyewitness accounts said that as soon as the woman stepped out of the main building, heading towards the gate, the kidnappers moved in from the gate, and pushed her into a waiting Volkswagen Golf car.
In a telephone chat, one of the palace chiefs, who requested anonymity, told our reporter that the abductors were armed to teeth, and that had taken hostage the workers at the gate who were fixing interlocking tiles in the palace, ordering them to lie face down.
“Immediately they saw our king’s wife, the Queen Mother who was coming towards the gate with her maid to serve the workers soft drinks, she was seized and thrown into a waiting Golf car while another car was parked outside”.
Another eyewitness further said: “One of kidnappers, bracing all odds, went upstairs to collect the Queen Mother’s handbag. Another maid who sighted the kidnapper upstairs hid herself in the kitchen.”
Professor Okonjo is a retired profesor of sociology at the University of Nigeria (UNN) Nsukka.