Insecurity & Crime

Gunmen lay siege on communities, abduct Priest, 18 other victims in A’ Ibom

ISAAC JOB, UYO

Gunmen have taken over some communities and abducted a Catholic Priest identified as Alphonsus Uboh in the church premises while 18 other persons have been kidnapped in Ekparakwa and Mkpat Enin communities between November 2021 to May 2022 in Akwa Ibom state.

Sources told our Correspondent that Father Alphonsus Uboh, the Parish Priest of X Parish located at Ikot Abasi Akpan along Ekparakwa Etinan road in Mkpat Enin local government area of the state.

An eyewitness who pleaded anonymity said the gunmen arrived at the church premises at exactly 7pm on Sunday in a motorcycle convoy, forced their way into church premises and whisked the priest away on their motorcycle after shooting sporadically into the air just to scare away the people.

Our Correspondent gathered that the incident occurred after a similar one within the community where the founder and President of Solid Rock Kingdom Church was abducted in his residence but later regained freedom after spending four days in the kidnapper’s den.

Our Investigation reveals that gunmen have taken over the area kidnapping and killing innocent people.

The communities where the nefarious activities of the hoodlums take place include Ekparakwa, villages along Ekparakwa/Ikot Abasi road in OrukAnam local government area as well as Ikot Ebak, Ikot Akaam, Ibekwe Akpan axis in Mkpat council areas of the state.

Our Correspondent gathered that residents of the areas and other adjoining villages in OrukAnam and Mkpat Enin have been robbed daily while others are kidnapped for ransom.

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Speaking to our Correspondent in Ekparakwa on Sunday, a youth leader who pleaded anonymity said more than 18 persons were abducted in the communities between November and April adding that the area is not safe at the moment.

He listed other victims to include shop owners, civil servants such as teachers, nurses and local businessmen in the area.

He recalled that a Medical Doctor at Health Centre Ikot Ekpaw; 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 could not sleep in their houses at night while some have fled for fear of being kidnapped or killed by the gunmen.

He revealed dangerous spots along Ekparakwa -Ikot Abasi road where the gunmen ambushed market women, traders and motorists for their operations.

He mentioned a deep pothole area after the former Hapel company yard before the sharp corner to Ikot Ebak village as a very deadly zone where the gunmen hide to waylaid their victims adding that many people have been killed on the spot.

He said the situation became worst when motorists diverted the bad spot on the road to another bypass in the village and the gunmen also relocated to the road killing innocent commuters who resisted them in their robbery.

“One day a woman who deals in palm oil returned from the market. Unknown to her, gunmen had laid ambush on the diverted road, they intercepted her robbed her of N700,000 cash and killed her.”

Another Youth Leader who refused to mention his name for fear of possible attack disclosed that Ikot Ebak, Ibekwe Akpan Nya and neighbouring villages in OrukAnam local government areas have become the centre of kidnappers in recent times.

He said the climax of their operations was when the founder of Solid Rock Kingdom Church Apostle John Okoriko was abducted in his residence a few weeks ago.

Continuing, he said after the man of God was released from the kidnapper’s den, two persons were shot dead in the community last Wednesday.

“Even last week Wednesday, after Apostle Okoriko was released, the gunmen returned to the village and killed Okoriko’s friend and one of his relations in an early morning raid ”

” The kidnappers have converted the bush in one of the primary schools to their hideout where they caged their victims,” he said

In a telephone interview, Akwa Ibom Police Public Relations Officer Odiko Mcdon confirmed the abduction of the Catholic Priest and other activities of gunmen in the area and promised to work on the criminals.

” We have received that report from the area and we are working on it,” he said.

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