Gunmen have abducted a Catholic priest in Imo State, South-east Nigeria.
The victim, Kingsley Eze, was abducted at a road junction around 8 p.m. on Thursday in Umuekebi, Osuoweerre, a community in Isiala Mbano Local Government Area of the state, according to a report by Vanguard newspaper.
Mr Eze, popularly known as Father Ichie, is priest in charge of Saint Michael’s Catholic Church Parish in the community.
The cleric’s driver, identified as Uchenna Newman, was also abducted during the attack.
The attackers, who operated on two motorcycles, were also said to have robbed shop owners at the junction before leaving the scene.
A member of the church in the community, who asked not to be named, told reporters that he and other church members were terrified by the abduction of the priest and his driver.
“They (the abducted priest and the driver) came down from a Volvo Jeep to buy something at the junction before they were kidnapped.
“They (gunmen) also robbed businessmen at the junction. This is so unfortunate. We sincerely pray for the safe return of our parish priest and Mr. Uchenna,” he said.
An indigene of the community, who asked not to be named, said the abduction was not the first in the area.
“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 motorcycles carrying pump action guns. Please, the government should come to our rescue,” he pleaded.
“They came on two motorcycles 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,” the indigene narrated.
When contacted by PREMIUM TIMES on Saturday morning, the police spokesperson in Imo State, Henry Okoye, declined to speak when asked for comments on the attack.
Like other states in Nigeria’s south-east, security has deteriorated in Imo State with frequent attacks by armed persons.
The attacks often target security agencies, government officials and facilities.
Gunmen, last week, abducted and then killed the traditional ruler of Otulu Community in Ezinihitte Mbaise Local Government Area of the state.
The killing of the traditional ruler happened barely 48 hours after gunmen killed Chiedoziem Anyanwu, a ward chairperson of the Peoples Democratic Party in the state.
The Nigerian government has accused IPOB of being responsible for the deadly attacks in the region. But the group has repeatedly denied any involvement in the attacks.
IPOB is leading agitation for an independent state of Biafra which it wants carved out from the South-east and some parts of South-south Nigeria.
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