…Speaks With The Prelate Who Narrated His Ordeal
FIC Report (Abia State) – Governor Okezie Ikpeazu has expressed delight at the release from kidnappers’ captivity of the Prelate of the Methodist Church Nigeria, His Eminence, Dr. SCK Uche, the Methodist Bishop of Owerri, Rt Rev Okechukwu Michael and the Prelate’s Chaplain.
Governor Ikpeazu has spoken with the Prelate who is in high spirits.
The Governor is grateful to God Almighty for His saving grace.
The Prelate of the Methodist Church Nigeria is a son of Abia State.
They were kidnapped on Sunday around the Nkwoagu – Leru axis in Umunneochi LGA, off the Enugu – PH Expressway.
The Governor attributed the release of these eminent Men of God within 24 hours of their abduction to the grace of God and the fervent prayers of the Christian Community.
Governor Okezie Ikpeazu assures that security will be stepped up around the Isuikwuato – Umunneochi axis of the State where there has, in the recent past, been a spike in the activities of criminals.
The Governor stated that the location of the area around the State’s borders with 4 states of Imo, Anambra, Enugu and Ebonyi makes it attractive to criminals who easily enter the State and also escape through any of these routes.
The Governor called for Inter State Collaboration with the neighboring states in securing those areas and stamp out the activities of criminals there.
Narrating his experience, the Prelate said their abductors were Fulanis alleging that some personnel of the Nigerian Army from Fulani extraction were aiding the kidnappers in their activities.
In his words;“these people came out from the bush;they divided themselves into 3 places; some people fired at us and there was another group in front to make sure that we didn’t run away; they fired shots at our vehicle and eventually, they abducted 3 of us.
“The communication man of the church was able to escape, the driver was able to escape; the abducted me, the bishop of Owerri and my chaplain and they took us to the bush and were torturing us. It was in the process of that torture that I hit my right eye on a tree. Even when blood was flowing and I was soaking my eyes with a handkerchief, they didn’t feel like anything happened.
“All they said was that we should follow them; that they were not actually against Nigerian citizens but against the government, that the government is a bad government.
“They are Fulani boys; all the 8 are fulanis; they said the day they will see the president or any of his representatives they will chew him raw; that he is their brother but he has disappointed them and has disappointed Nigeria.
”I said even though am part of government, am a church man am not a government official; they said okay, that is what have saved you, we would have killed you out-rightly without asking for any ransom but now that you are a church man, lets go inside the bush.
“I trekked up-to 15 kilometers but I knew that we were rig maroling, going up going down and eventually at 11pm they said okay now we can negotiate; each of us will pay N50million and we are going to pay N150million. I thought it was a joke; I said we were going to pay 10million and they said what? Don’t say that; they lifted up their knife to cut me,I said please hold on.”
According to the clergy, the leader of the group is about 35 years while the others are about 18.
He said they had taken his rings, chain, took the money they had on them and insisted on 150 million ransom.
“I said okay. We will pay you N100 million. After some time, they said where is the money and I said this is Sunday night how can we get money this night and you know that there is this sit at home in Igbo land. We cant afford the money now be patient till morning, we will make contacts.”
He said they lost patient, laid Bishop Dennis Mark down, raised a knife to cut him, while another pointed a gun at him (prelate) to show that they were serious.
“I told them we will raise the money for you. But the irony of it, where they were situated, the soldiers all of Fulani extraction, Nigerian soldiers, they were there at Lomara junction and these boys were going behind them. Meanwhile they kept their cows somewhere, numbering about 200.
He said some people were taking care of the cows while the abductors were parading them around the bush until they settled at a place,
“they said when are you bring the money? I said by 12 noon, I will call the people and I’ve contacted whether the money had been raised and I called them, they said that they are gathering the money and they heard it because they said I will use my phone to talk, they cant use their phone, they don’t want to be tracked “their leader was born in Igbo land but his parents have died.
He said he was born around Umuahia – Amuzukwu and his father was a cow dealer, the boy understood Igbo”.
He said the leader threatened to kill them if they informed security operatives when they had raised N100million.
The leader asked them to buy 5 ghana must go bags and put N20million in each bag. They left to pick the ransom while four others waited on them with guns.
“Around 5:30pm, the youngest boy who I think is a younger brother to their commander said oga congratulations you are free you can go now. We have got our money, you can go. Let me show you the road.
“They took us to old road, where they wrote welcome to Imo’ and ‘goodbye from Abia”.
“They told us that after buying enough weapons, they are going to bring all those people that were driven away from Zamfara, Katsina, Sambisa forest that they are all coming to locate themselves in Igbo land and deal with us.
“He said do you know Ibadan expressway? We are in all the bush there , we are also in the south south, we are waiting for the slightest signal we will finish you people and take over this land. They claimed that Nigeria belong to Fulani.
The Priest maintained that military personnels of Fulani extraction were aiding the kidnappers who disguise as herders in the daytime but are kidnappers at nights.
He called on the government to take a decisive action ‘other wise what is happening in the north will be a child’s play”.
On how they picked up the ransom, he said the terrorists came to the pick up spot with a truck without a number plate.
He stated that all efforts made to ensure that he is released was the effort of the Methodist church and her members and not security personnel nor government.
Less than 24 hours after N100 million ransom was paid to free the abuducted Prelate of Methodist Church of NIGERIA, His Eminence Samuel Uche, heavy protest erupted at Isuochi by angry Youths against incessant kidnappings by herdsmen. The irate youths are demanding immediate relocation to Garki cattle market and dismantling of military checkpoints in the area. They gave an ultimatum of 7 days.
A heavy protest has been ongoing against the incessant kidnap and killing by herders allegedly aided by Nigerian Soldiers stationed around Isuochi Umunneochi in Abia State on Wednesday.
This was necessitated over the incessant killing and kidnapping around Isuochi, Lokpa, Nneato, Uturu, ABSU, and Okigwe which made the youths both men and women troop out to protest against the Soldiers stationed in the axis.
“Increasingly , insecurity is becoming an issue of great concern, especially within the Isuikwuato-Umunneochi axis of our state. It is a menace that has the potential of threatening our economy and the education sector seriously if left unchecked.”
The Igbo Vanguard Group has in the face of high rising criminality in the South East geo-political zone tasked stakeholders including all Igbo leaders and pressure groups to brace up to the challenge of riding the political enclave of heinous crimes as well as work on and look into the activities of their children and wards to know when they are being used to attack a fellow Igbo as well as cause security problems in the area.
The call was dropped by the President General of the group, Engineer Obadiah Uchegbuo while reacting to the spate of kidnappings, arson and killings that have befallen the zone in recent times seemingly unabated.
According to the PG, the Igbo tradition does not support bloodletting as it has regard for human life just as he had described Igbos as very hard-working people and wondered aloud the current development in some parts of Igboland, especially Anambara and Imo state.
His words, “This is a new development that we are even trying to pry deep to know if actually, it is the Igbo sons that are behind the perpetration of those heinous crimes. Our culture does not support such level of violence, especially to our brother man.
The spate of kidnappings are not part of Igbo culture. We are trying to find out how these things came to be as they are against Igbo culture and norms.
”We respect the sanctity of life by nature of our worship, attitude, civilization, and we don’t support any wastage of life. We are very hard-working people and we condemn bloodletting in its entirety. Anybody doing that for any reason, is unacceptable to us as a people”.
He described the Igbos as endangered species in Nigeria politics and leadership arguing that for any Igbo man to hide under the excuse of politics to go and kill his brother man is unacceptable.
The Chancellor of Gregory University, Uturu and APGA Gubernatorial Candidate in Abia State, Prof Gregory Ibe has expressed joy at the release of the Prelate of Methodist Church Bishop Samuel Kalu Uche and two others by kidnappers.
According to Prof. Ibe “When the news broke on Sunday of the kidnapping of the Prelate, who happens to be my revered Senior at Ihube High School, it became a kill joy development that doused celebrations of my victory at the just concluded gubernatorial primary election of APGA.
Therefore, my joy knows no bounds hearing of his release in good health.”
Prof. Ibe stated that the issue of insecurity especially around the Isuikwuato and Umunneochi axis has become a nagging problem that must be urgently addressed to curb the incessant kidnappings happening within the area.
He urged state governments in the South East to formally incorporate local vigilance groups in their security infrastructure while pledging to” I heard a governor say that most of the killings are done by politicians who sponsor most of these boys to cause problem in the name of politics, I still hear about the Fulani herdsmen attacking and killing our people and kidnapping students around Isuikwuato area.
”Maybe these Igbos are learning from the bandits. The Igbo Vanguard Group frowns at such criminality. Igbos have suffered a lot. From 1967 to 1970 there was a holocaust in the Eastern region which deleted our population. We are trying to recover from the trauma of that siege and for any Igbo man to turn against a fellow Igbo man making things difficult for our economy is unacceptable and we condemn it totally”.
He called for a synergy intelligence gathering by the security agencies with the sole aim of flushing out the perpetrators of the crime and their possible sponsors just as he stated the need for all and sundry in Igboland to be their brothers keeper.
“We need to get rid of them from their hideouts to be able to, as a people fight our common cause to liberate Igbos from the problems we are having already over the civil war where millions of Igbo lives were deleted and sent to their early graves”.