Gunmen Abduct Catholic Priest in Anambra as Police Arrest Gunrunner

David-Chyddy Eleke in Awka

Gunmen have kidnapped a Catholic Priest in Anambra State, Rev. Fr. Christian Ike,   just one month after another priest, Rev Basil Gbuzuo, was kidnapped and rescued by security operatives in the state.

This was as police in the state intercepted a gunrunner, Felix Owaya, from Delta State who specialises in supplying arms and ammunition to criminals.

Rev. Fr. Ike, the parish priest of St Matthew Catholic Church in Ajalli, Orumba North Local Government Area of Anambra State, and a parishioner of the church, Mr. Ogbonnia Aneke were kidnapped in Ajali.

The abduction was said to have happened at about 10a.m. last Sunday when he was returning from a morning mass.

Anambra State Police Command confirmed the kidnap in a statement saying it received the information and deployed its intelligence and operational assets of the Command for possible rescue.

The Command’s spokesperson, SP Tochukwu Ikenga, said: “Eyewitness account revealed that by 10:30 a.m. on Sunday, the priest and two others were returning from St Michael Catholic Church Ndiokpaleke where they attended Aa morning service, at Amagu Junction.

“They were double-crossed by armed men operating in three vehicles, while the other two escaped the scene, the criminals took away the priest and some personal belongings of the occupants in the vehicle.

Meanwhile, the letter from the church addressed to parishes in Ekwulobia Diocese confirmed the incident. The statement from Diocesan Chancellor of the Catholic Church, Rev. Fr. Lawrence Nwankwo, also called for prayers.

It said: “Please pray for the release of Rev. Fr. Christian Ike and Mr. Ogbonnia Aneke, who were kidnapped this morning around 9.45 a.m. as they were returning from Mass in an outstation of St. Matthew’s Parish, Ajalli, Orumba North LGA.”

Meanwhile, a statement issued by the state police command disclosed that a gunrunner was on last Sunday arrested in Onitsha.

The statement read: “On June 15, 2024, by 1:30 p.m., police operatives attached to Fegge division while on patrol in Niger Street, Onitsha, arrested one Felix Owaya, 48, of Ika South LGA of Delta State.

“The operatives recovered 375 live cartridges from him. During interrogation, the suspect confessed that he was sent by one Mr. Charles Ogboma to a man he is yet to mention to collect the ammunition. Meanwhile, investigation is still ongoing.”

Ikenga quoted the Commissioner of Police in Anambra State, CP Nnaghe Obono Itam, as directing all personnel in the Command to sustain the tempo of crime prevention and detection in the service of the people of the state.

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