By Chidi Nkwopara
OWERRI—Kidnappers have abducted Rev. Fr. Francis Ugoo Egbebu, the parish priest of St. Patrick’s Catholic Church, Umuola, Amaigbo, Nwangele Local Government Area of Imo State.
Reports from the Catholic Diocese of Orlu, where Rev. Fr. Egbebu is serving, indicated that the priest was last seen driving out of the parish last Monday morning.
Although it was not clear at press time the exact location the priest was picked up by the hoodlums, Vanguard gathered that the kidnappers had made an initial contact with close relations of the priest and demanded N5 million ransom.
Vanguard also gathered that Rev. Fr. Egbebu, who is the first vicar of the parish, resumed duties on November 2014, when the young parish was created and inaugurated by the Catholic Bishop of Orlu Diocese, Most Rev. Augustine Ukwuoma.
Confirming the kidnap to newsmen, the Parish Council Chairman, Engr. Adolphus Ogbonna, said: “We have heard the news of the kidnap of our parish priest.
“Some people say he was kidnapped around Owerri, while others claim he was kidnapped in our community. We are filled with anxiety and sorrow over the incident.”
While affirming that the kidnappers had made a N5 million demand, the Parish Council Chairman, however, urged the parishioners to remain calm and be prayerful.
Police Public Relations Officer, Mr. Andrew Enwerem, not only confirmed the incident but also affirmed that the command was already on the trail of the kidnappers.
He said: “The command has received the report about the kidnap of the priest. We are still on the trail of the kidnappers.”
However, Imo State government has blamed the resurgence of kidnapping and other serious crimes on youths armed by politicians to fight election battles.
Mr. Sam Onwuemeodo, Chief Press Secretary to Governor Rochas Okorocha, said: “The elections are over, but youths have not returned the arms.”
He said this explained why there was a renewed resurgence of kidnapping.