Police arrest suspects linked to Owerri Bishop kidnap
The state Police Public Relations Officer, Orlando Ikeokwu, confirmed this to journalists in Owerri.
He mentioned that among the victims rescued was Bishop Chikwe’s driver and a 33-year-old, one Chioma Stephanie Ekwedike, female, who was kidnapped in front of her residence, at Imo Housing Estate Umuguma, Owerri West local government. The police further said that the Bishop and others were rescued from a thick forest, between Awara in Ohaji/Egbema local government area of Imo state and Omuku creeks in Rivers state, led by the anti-kidnapping unit. They noted that during the rescue operation that some of the kidnap gang members fled and efforts have been intensified by the command to arrest them. The police narrated:
“The Auxiliary Bishop of the Catholic Archdiocese of Owerri, Bishop Moses Chikwe has been rescued unhurt as a result of a sting operation embarked upon by the tactical squad of the Command led by the Anti Kidnapping Unit. “Recall that on 27/12/2020, the Auxiliary Bishop was kidnapped together with his driver, and the hoodlums went ahead to kidnap one Chioma Stephenie Ekwedike ‘f’ aged 33yrs at Imo Housing Estate Umuguma, Owerri West LGA in front of her residence.
“Pursuant to the above, the Head and the Officer in Charge of the state Police Command, newly promoted AIG ISAAC O. AKINMOYEDE, activated all the tactical teams in the Command, and charged them to rescue the Bishop and others, and arrest the hoodlums responsible for the act. “Acting on the said directive a combined unit of all the tactical teams on the 31st December 2020 stormed Awara, Ohaji/Egbema LGA and Omuku creeks. Few persons positively linked to the crime/criminals were arrested, and some incriminating items recovered.
“The arrest of the suspects and other coordinated operations by the Command led to the kidnappers abandoning victims, leading to rescue of the bishop and two other victims unhurt and without payment of any ransom. Efforts are ongoing to arrest the fleeing members of the notorious kidnapping syndicate.”
The Imo police command further warned that, “It is noteworthy to mention that an online media platform last week came up with the news of the death of the Bishop. In the online report, it was claimed that the Auxiliary Bishop was beheaded and his head and decapitated body recovered somewhere in Anambra State. The Command, therefore, wishes to warn against such speculative and junk reportings especially in social media as such is capable of causing breach of peace.
“The Command also wishes to commend the public and the Christian community for the calmness during the period of this travail and the confidence reposed in the Nigeria Police to resolve the crime. We, however, wish to assure everyone that the Command remains capable of protecting all law-abiding citizens of the state.
“Members of the public are reminded that all incidents within their area must be promptly reported to the Police especially incidents of grievous nature or heinous crimes. The Command also calls for information from the members of the public concerning crime and criminalities in their area to enable the police take prompt and decisive actions.”