Gunmen kidnap brother of Opec chief

PORT HARCOURT, Nigeria (AFP) - Gunmen kidnapped the younger brother of Nigeria's oil minister and current Opec president Diezani Alison-Madueke in southern Bayelsa state on Thursday, a police spokesman said.

The gunmen kidnapped Joseph Agama at around 1100 GMT (7pm Singapore time) in the Yenaka community of Yenagoa, which is the capital of the oil-rich state, said Asinim Butswat.

"Unidentified gunmen on Thursday abducted Mr Joseph Agama, younger brother of Mrs Diezani Alison-Madueke, Minister of Petroleum Resources," he added.

Police were alerted by Agama's father, Maxwel. No group has yet claimed responsibility for the kidnapping and an investigation has been launched.

Kidnapping for ransom is common in Nigeria's oil-rich Niger Delta region.

Last October, gunmen seized the minister's sister, Osiyo Agama, in Port Harcourt, the capital of neighbouring Rivers state.

She was later rescued by security agents.

Alison-Madueke, who last year became the first woman to hold the rotating presidency of the global oil cartel, is not the only senior Nigerian politician to be targeted by gangs.

Early in 2014, Nengite Nitabai, the 71-year-old uncle of President Goodluck Jonathan, was kidnapped in Bayelsa. He was later rescued by the police.

The mother of finance minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala was also kidnapped in December 2012 and released five days later.

Both Alison-Madueke and Okonjo-Iweala are the two most powerful ministers in Jonathan's Cabinet.