JUST IN: Gunmen kidnap Imo Catholic priest, one other

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Gunmen on Thursday night kidnapped the priest in charge of St Michael’s Catholic Church Parish in Umuekebi, Osuoweerre autonomous community in the Isiala Mbano Local Government Area of Imo State, Rev Fr Kingsley Eze, popularly known as Father Ichie.

The priest and another man identified as Uchenna Newman, who drove the priest in a Volvo jeep were kidnapped at Orieama junction around 8 pm on Thursday.

The suspects were also said to have robbed shop owners at the junction before leaving the scene.

A parishioner, who spoke on condition of anonymity told our correspondent that the church members were terrified by the abduction of the priest and the other person.

The source said, “It is true. Our parish priest, Rev’d Fr Kingsley Eze, popularly known as Father Ichie has been kidnapped. He was kidnapped alongside Mr Uchenna Newman, at Orieama junction on Thursday around 8 pm.“They came down from a Volvo jeep to buy something at the junction before they were kidnapped. They also robbed businessmen at the junction. This is so unfortunate. We sincerely pray for the safe return of our parish priest and Mr Uchenna.”

An indigene of the area told our correspondent that the incident was not the first in the environ in a while.

He said, “Last night, around 8.30 pm, a man and a Rev Father were kidnapped at Orieama Junction. Several shops were robbed and destroyed by the kidnappers who operated on two motorcycles.

“The name of the priest is Rev’d Fr Kingsley Eze popularly known as Father Ichie of St Michael’s Catholic church at Umuekebi community. The person kidnapped alongside him is known as Uche Newman. This is the third kidnapping taking place within a space of weeks on the Anara Umuelemai road.

“Seriously, we need help. The worst is that, they move around in motorbikes carrying pump action guns. Please, the government should come to our rescue.

“They came on two motorbike and as they were going, they took the car belonging to the priest and the artisan. They also shot and unfortunately, one person was hit by the bullet. The gunshot victim was rushed to a hospital  late last night.”

The spokesperson for the state police command, Henry Okoye, had yet to react to the incident.

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