Gunmen Abduct Catholic Priest, Monarch, Others in A’Ibom, Bayelsa

Okon Bassey in Uyo  and Olusegun Samuel in Yenagoa

A Catholic priest identified as Alphonsus Uboh has been abducted by  gunmen within the church premises in Akwa Ibom State.

This is coming few weeks after the Founder and President of Solid Rock Kingdom Church, Apostle John Okoriko was abducted and N100 millions demanded as ransom.

Similarly, gunmen suspected to be kidnappers have abducted a traditional ruler, a 50 year-old women and middle aged man at Otuabula community in Ogbia Local Government Area of Bayelsa State.

According to sources in the community, the incident happened at about 1a.m. yesterday, when heavily armed gunmen numbering about 20 invaded the community and abducted the victims.

They identified those abducted as the Deputy Paramount Ruler of Otuabula, Mr. Otia Isomom, Mrs. Lucy Osain and Mr. Friday Abah who were taken into a waiting speedboat.

A resident of the community who witnessed the incident was stabbed with a dagger but luckily escaped from being kidnapped by the gunmen.

Police Spokesman in Bayelsa State, SP. Asinim Butswat, confirmed the kidnapped, and said that police is intensifying efforts in rescuing the abducted victims, while investigation is ongoing to apprehend the culprits.

Meanwhile, the  kidnapped Catholic priest is the Parish Priest of X Parish located at Ikot Abasi Akpan along Ekparakwa Etinan road in Mkpat Enin Local Government Area of the state.

An eyewitness said the gunmen arrived the church premises at about on Sunday on motorcycles, forced their way into the church premises and whisked the priest away after shooting sporadically into the air to scare people.

Checks revealed that the incident occurred after a similar one within the community that the founder and President of Solid Rock Kingdom Church was abducted in his residence.

He later regained freedom after spending four days in the kidnappers’ den and   payment of undisclosed ransom. 

The kidnappers had demanded N100 million but later reduced to N30 million.

People in the community are now living in fear as gunmen have reportedly taken over the area kidnapping and killing innocent people at will.

The communities where the nefarious activities of the hoodlums are taking place include: Ekparakwa  villages along Ekparakwa/Ikot Abasi road in OrukAnam Local Government area as well as Ikot Ebak, Ikot Akaam, Ibekwe Akpan axis in Mkpat council areas of the state.

Sources alleged that 18 persons have been kidnapped in the Akwa Ibom communities between November last year and now.

Sources said residents of the affected  areas and other adjoining villages in  Oruk Anam and Mkpat Enin have been robbed daily while others are kidnapped for ransom.

A youth leader from Ekparakwa village,  who pleaded anonymity, said more than 18 persons were abducted in the communities between November last year and  April 2023, adding that the area is not safe at the moment.

He listed other  victims to include shop owners , civil servants such as teachers , nurses and local businessmen in the area.

He recalled that a medical doctor at Health Centre, Ikot Ekpaw, a neighbouring village to Ekparakwa, was whisked away at gunpoint  while attending to patient in the theatre in February this year.

The youth leader disclosed that residents of the area especially in Ikot Akaam could not sleep in their houses at night while some have fled for fear of being kidnapped or killed by the gunmen.

He revealed dangerous spots along Ekparakwa -Ikot Abasi road where the gunmen ambushed market women , traders and motorists for their operations .

He mentioned a deep pothole area after former Hapel company  before the sharp corner to Ikot Ebak village as a very deadly zone where the gunmen hide to waylaid their victims adding that many people have been killed on the spot.

He said the situation became worst when motorists diverted the bad spot on the road to another by-pass in the village and the gunmen also relocated to the road killing innocent commuters who resisted them in their robbery.

“One day a woman who deals on palm oil returned from market, unknown to her, the gunmen had laid ambush on the diverted road, they intercepted her robbed her of N700,000 cash and killed her,” he said.

Another youth leader, who refused to mention his name for fear of possible attack, disclosed that Ikot Ebak, Ibekwe Akpan Nya and neighbouring villages in Oruk Anam local government areas have become the centres of kidnappers in recent time.

He said the climax of their operations was when the founder of Solid Rock Kingdom Church, Apostle John Okoriko was abducted in his residence few weeks ago.

Continuing, he said after the man of God was released from the kidnappers’ den, two persons were shot dead in the community last Wednesday .

“Even last week Wednesday, after Apostle Okoriko was released, the gunmen returned to the village and killed Okoriko’s friend and one of his relations in an early morning raid.

“The kidnappers have converted the bush in one of the primary schools to their hide out where they caged their victims, “ he said.

Reacting to the report in an interview, the Akwa Ibom Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), Odiko Mcdon, confirmed the abduction of the Catholic priest and other activities of gunmen in the area and promised to work on the criminals.

“We have received that report from the area and we are working on it,” he said.

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