Feb 6, 2009
Gunmen free Nigerian boy of nine
Gangs of jobless youth make money from kidnapping and extortion
A nine-year-old boy kidnapped by a gang in Nigeria's oil-producing Niger Delta has been released.
His 11-year-old sister was shot dead trying to protect him as they walked to school in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, last week.
It is understood no ransom was paid to the kidnappers even though his father is an employee of Royal Dutch Shell.
Kidnapping of oil company employees by gangs of armed men is on the increase in the Niger Delta.
Emmanuel Awonusi is reported to have been released unharmed.
Militant groups have been kidnapping oil workers and their families for many years in the Niger Delta.
They say they are trying to force a fairer distribution of wealth from Nigeria's oil, but jobless young men make money from extortion, kidnapping and oil theft.
The lucrative kidnapping business has attracted copy-cat gangs, analysts say.
Oil companies always deny paying ransoms but it is believed to be a common practice.