THE HAGUE : Niger Delta gunmen have released three Dutch nationals who were abducted a week earlier, the Dutch foreign ministry confirmed on Sunday.
‘I can confirm they have been freed,’ said ministry spokesman Johanne Doornewaard, adding that they were in good health. He said he had ‘no information’ on whether any ransom was paid for the release of the trio. Earlier a Nigerian activist who had accompanied the trio had announced their release.
Amsterdam-based environmental activist Sunny Ofehe and the two Dutch men and one woman, were seized last Sunday after armed men in a dinghy stormed their boat. The group, which included another Netherlands-based Nigerian, were blindfolded and eventually taken to an unknown location where the two Nigerians were released.
‘I just want to inform everyone that they are free, and that they are safe and in good health,’ Ofehe told Dutch broadcaster NOS TV. The Dutch foreign ministry spokesman said the released hostages were still in Nigeria and that the Dutch ambassador had been sent to the Delta region to meet them. Scores of foreigners have been abducted in the southern Niger Delta region, home to Africa’s largest oil industry, with many released on payment of a ransom.
Employees of foreign oil companies are required to have an armed escort when travelling in the Delta, but international journalists, aid workers and others typically avoid taking a security detail. Dutch printing company Gerrits & Leffers had confirmed that two of its employees were among those abducted and that the pair were in Nigeria to help Niger Delta peace activists publish a magazine. The third Dutch national was a documentary filmmaker, NOS TV reported, and the group was en route to visit a hospital financed by oil company Chevron when the kidnapping took place.