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Police confirm abduction of Owerri Catholic bishop, driver

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• Assure of his speedy release
• Imo in hands of outlaws, says HURIWA

Imo State Police Command has confirmed the abduction of the Auxilliary Bishop of Owerri Catholic Archdiocese, Moses Chikwe. The Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), SP Orlando Ikeokwu, stated on Monday night that though the archdiocese was yet to report to the command officially, the Commissioner of Police (CP), Isaac Akinmoyede, had activated relevant units in the command to rescue the cleric and possibly apprehend the hoodlums.

His words: “It happened yesterday. Though the matter hasn’t been reported officially, the command got wind of the story from social media platforms.

“The CP has activated the command’s Quick Intervention Team (QUIT) and the Anti-Kidnapping Unit (AKU) to rescue the bishop and, possibly, arrest the hoodlums.”

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Unknown gunmen, The Guardian gathered, kidnapped Chikwe and his driver, in the evening of Sunday, December 27, on World Bank/Umuguma Road, Owerri.

The abductors reportedly returned the bishop’s vehicle to Assumpta Cathedral, Owerri. They were yet to establish contact on the whereabouts of the abductees, at press time.

Chikwe, who Pope Francis designated to replace Archbishop Anthony Obinna in Owerri Ecclesiastic Province, upon Obinna’s retirement, was appointed auxiliary bishop some months ago.

The PPRO called on Catholic faithful not to panic, but to remain prayerful in the spirit of the yuletide, and hope for Chikwe’s release.

“We urge everyone to remain calm in the face of this unfortunate situation. We also assure the general public that the auxiliary bishop will soon be re-united with his loved ones.

“Our AKU led by CSP Linus Nwaiwu has been mobilised to ensure he is freed and the suspects arrested,” he said.
MEANWHILE, Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) has condemned the kidnap, saying Imo is in the hands of outlaws.

According to the group, the situation in Imo calls for deeper introspection, “as the state’s political leadership is rudderless and ruthlessly incompetent.”

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HURIWA lamented that the House of Assembly seemed to be dominated by “political nitwits and praise-singers of a poorly-performing governor”.

In a statement by the National Coordinator, Emmanuel Onwubiko, HURIWA said the criminal act of abducting the bishop demonstrated that the decision of the Supreme Court of Nigeria to make someone who came fourth in an election governor in 2019 was targeted at destroying good governance in the Eastern Heartland.

“The entire Imo is in a state of political and economic paralysis, just as there is a total absence of any semblance of governance.

“What is on the ground is a rule by mobsters. If nothing is done pretty soon, the violent criminals will up their deadly game and turn Imo into a kingdom of armed non-state actors and robbers,” it added.

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