By Chidi Nkwopara
The Catholic Archdiocese of Owerri, and the Imo State Police Command, Friday night, announced the release of the Auxiliary Bishop of Owerri, Most Rev. Moses Chikwe and his driver, Mr. Robert Ndubuisi, by their abductors.
While the Police Bulletin was signed by the Police Public Relations Officer, PPRO, Mr. Orlando Ikeokwu, the Catholic Archbishop of Owerri, Most Rev. Anthony J. V. Obinna, personally signed the statement he issued.
Obinna said: “With gratitude to God, I hereby inform all Christ’s faithful and people of goodwill everywhere that at about 10pm on the first day of January, 2021, His Lordship, Most Rev. Moses Chikwe, and Mr. Ndubuisi Robert, his driver, who were abducted in the evening of Sunday, December 27, 2020, were finally released.
“I personally visited and saw Bishop Chikwe in his residence at about 10.45pm, looking and feeling very weak from the traumatic experience. Nevertheless, we continue to thank Almighty God for His goodness to us.”
Obinna recalled that at the time of his visit, Mr. Ndubuisi “was unavailable because he had been speedily taken to the hospital for the treatment of a deep cut he received on his hand from the kidnappers “.
Continuing, Archbishop Obinna said: “I gratefully acknowledge that the Imo State Government, through the Directorate of Security Services and the Anti Kidnapping Squad of the Nigeria Police Force and the Anambra State Government, through the Chief Security Office of the state, combined their efforts to attain the release of Bishop Chikwe and Mr. Ndubuisi Robert.”
In his own release, the PPRO not only disclosed that the duo were released unhurt, without Ransome, but also warned against fake news and mischievous use of the social media.
His words: “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 December 27, 2020, the Auxiliary Bishop was kidnapped together with his driver, and the hoodlums went ahead to kidnap one Chioma Stephenie Ekwedike ‘f’ aged 33 years, at Imo Housing Estate Umuguma, Owerri West Local Government Area, in front of her residence.
“Pursuant to the above, the Head and the Officer in Charge of the State Police Command, newly promoted Assistant Inspector General of Police, 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 December 31, 2020, stormed Awara, Ohaji/Egbema local government area 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.”
Ikeokwu recalled with grief that an online media platform last week, came up with the news that the Auxiliary Bishop was beheaded and his head and decapitated body recovered somewhere in Anambra state.
“The Command therefore wish to warn against such speculative and junk reportings, especially in social media, as such is capable of causing breach of peace”, the PPRO said.
While commending the public and the Christian community for their calmness during the period of this travail and the confidence reposed in the Nigeria Police to resolve the crime, the police however assured 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” the PPRO pleaded.