Dare-devil armed robbers have kidnapped the Catholic Priest in charge of Saint Michael’s Catholic Church Parish in Umuekebi of Osuoweerre autonomous community in Isiala Mbano local government area of Imo State, Rev. Fr. Kingsley Eze, popularly called Father Ichie.
The priest was abducted alongside one other person in the Volvo jeep they were driving in together, Uchenna Newman, at the ever-busy Orieama junction at about 8pm on Thursday night.
LEADERSHIP gathered that the priest and his friend had made a stopover at Orie ama junction to buy something from the roadside traders when the gunmen struck.
Sources, who pleaded anonymity, said the gunmen operated with two motorcycles as they started shooting sporadically upon arrival to the scene.
However, before driving off with their victims, they dispossessed shop owners of their money amid shooting.
An unconfirmed report said a passer-by was hit by a stray bullet and was rushed to hospital for treatment.
A trader, who pleaded anonymity, said the robbery cum kidnap had become a norm as already some people who included Mr Ezeji from Mbeke community, Mr Buchi, a popular butcher at Umuelemia junction, had paid huge ransoms to secure their release from the gunmen.
The source told LEADERSHIP: “The priest and the other person just came out of a Volvo jeep to buy something at the junction before they were kidnapped. The gunmen also robbed businessmen at the junction last night around 8:30pm. In fact, several other shops were robbed and destroyed by the kidnappers who operated on two motorcycles.
“As they were going, they took the Volvo jeep and shot into the air. Unfortunately, one person was hit by the bullet.The gunshot victim was rushed to a hospital very late last night.”
Efforts to get the reaction of the Imo State Police Command proved abortive as the spokesperson, Henry Okoye, said he was in a meeting and will respond later.