By Chidi Nkwopara – Owerri
Unidentified gunmen reportedly kidnapped a Catholic priest, Rev. Fr. Valentine Oluchukwu Ezeagu, who was on his way to his Aguata, Anambra State, ancestral home, for his father’s burial.
Vanguard also gathered that the priest was kidnapped at Umulolo, Arondizuogu, Ideato North local council area of Imo State, on the Okigwe-Uga axis of the dilapidated federal highway.
A statement dated December 15, 2020, issued and signed by the Secretary-General, Sons of Mary Mother of Mercy Generalate, Ohokobe Afaraukwu, Umuahia, Rev. Fr. Goodluck C. Ajaero confirmed the ugly development.
The release, captioned “Notice of the kidnap of our brother, Rev. Fr. Valentine Oluchukwu Ezeagu”, gave a graphic account of how the priest was kidnapped.
Part of the release read: “I write to notify you of the kidnap of our brother, Rev. Fr. Valentine Oluchukwu Ezeagu, a member of our religious congregation, Sons of Mary Mother of Mercy, Umuahia, Nigeria.
“Fr. Valentine was travelling to his village, Igboukwu in Aguata local government area of Anambra State, for his father’s funeral.
“He was travelling in a Toyota Corolla 2005 model, sky green in colour. The plate number of his car is JJJ 664 BM.
“According to an eye witness, who was driving in a bus behind him, four armed men came out from the bush, at a bad spot at Umulolo, Arondizuogu (Ideato North local council area of Imo State), and forced him to the back of the car and sped off.”
While saying that the funeral mass for the burial of the kidnapped priest’s father, holds December 17, 2020, Rev. Fr. Ajaero also called for fervent prayers for the immediate release of his brother priest.
When contacted, Police Public Relations Officer, PPRO, Mr. Orlando Ikeokwu, said that although there was no evidence that the matter was reported in any police division, the Commissioner of Police, CP, Mr. Isaac Akinmoyede, has ordered his men to go after the hoodlums.
His words: “The matter was not reported to any our divisional commands. Ordinarily, the scene of the incident is in Okigwe Division but was not reported there. I have also checked out the nearby divisions, but there was no such report in any of them.
“The Command only knew about the incident from Facebook accounts and we took it up from there. The CP has ordered the anti-kidnapping and other formations, to go after the hoodlums, with a view to rescuing the priest unhurt and bringing the bandits to book”, the PPRO said.