Panic as suspected armed robbers, kidnappers take over A’Ibom communities
There is panic as gunmen suspected to be armed robbers and kidnappers have taken over some communities in Akwa Ibom State. A Catholic priest, identified as Alphonsus Uboh was abducted in the church premises.
Gunmen have also abducted 18 others between November 2021 and May this year. Sources told The Guardian that, Fr Uboh is the Parish Priest of X Parish located at Ikot Abasi Akpan along Ekparakwa Etinan road in Mkpat Enin Local Council in the state.
An eyewitness said the gunmen arrived the church at about 7:00p.m. on Sunday in a motorcycle convoy, forced their way into the premises and whisked the priest away after shooting sporadically into the air just to scare the people.
According to the witness, the incident occurred after a similar one within the community, where the Founder and President of Solid Rock Kingdom Church was abducted from his residence, but later regained freedom after spending four days in the kidnappers’ den .
The affected communities include; villages along Ekparakwa/Ikot Abasi road in OrukAnam Local Council and Ikot Ebak, Ikot Akaam, Ibekwe Akpan axis in Mkpat Local Council.
It was gathered that residents in the area and other surrounding villages in OrukAnam and Mkpat Enin were being robbed daily, while others are kidnapped for ransom.
A youth leader, who spoke to newsmen on the condition of anonymity in Ekparakwa on Sunday, said more than 18 people were abducted between November 2021 and April, adding that the area is no more safe at the moment.
He listed other victims to include; shop owners, civil servants, teachers , nurses and local businessmen. The witness recalled that, a medical doctor at Ekpa Health Centre Ikot, a neighbouring village to Ekparakwa was whisked away at gunpoint, while attending to a patient in the theatre in February this year .
The Youth Leader disclosed that, residents of the area, especially in Ikot Akaam cannot sleep in their houses at night, while some have fled for fear of being kidnapped or killed by the gunmen.
Another Youth leader said Ikot Ebak, Ibekwe Akpan Nya and neighbouring villages in OrukAnam Local Council have become the centre of kidnappers in recent time.
According to him, the climax of their operations was when the Founder of Solid Rock Kingdom Church Apostle John Okoriko was abducted in his residence.
Continuing, he said after the man of God was released from the kidnappers’ den, two persons were shot dead in the community last Wednesday.
The Police Public Relations Officer, Odiko Mcdon, who confirmed abduction of the Catholic Priest and other activities of gunmen in the area in a telephone call, promised to track the criminals.