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 Imo State Police Command led by the Anti Kidnapping Unit.
Bishop Chikwe and his driver Ndubuisi Robert were rescued on Thursday evening at about 10 pm after spending six days in the den of the kidnappers.
It would be recalled that the Auxiliary Bishop was kidnapped together with his driver, Robert on December 27.
In a statement by the Command’s PPRO, Orlando Ikeokwu, the hoodlums also on the day went ahead to kidnap one Chioma Stephenie Ekwedike aged 33yrs at Imo Housing Estate Umuguma, Owerri West LGA in front of her residence.
Pursuant to the above, the Head and the Officer in Charge of the state Police Command, newly promoted 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, he disclosed that a combined unit of all the tactical teams on the 31st December 2020 stormed Awara, Ohaji/Egbema LGA and Omuku creeks and arrested some of the criminals while some incriminating items recovered.
According to him, the arrest of the suspects and other coordinated operations by the Command led to the kidnappers abandoning victims, leading to the rescue of the bishop and two other victims unhurt and without payment of any ransom.
He said that efforts are ongoing to arrest the fleeing members of the notorious kidnapping syndicate.
“It is noteworthy to mention that an online media platform last week came up with the news of the death of the Bishop. In the online report, it was claimed that the Auxiliary Bishop was beheaded and his head and decapitated body recovered somewhere in Anambra State.
He, therefore, warned against such speculative and junk reporting especially on social media as such is capable of causing a breach of peace.
The Command also commended the public and the Christian community for the calmness during the period of this travail and the confidence reposed in the Nigeria Police to resolve the crime. “We however wish to assure everyone that the Command remains capable of protecting all law-abiding citizens of the state.”
Meanwhile, Archbishop of Owerri, Anthony Obinna in a statement Saturday expressed gratitude to God for the release of the bishop.
He also thanked Pope Francis for mentioning the incident in his new year message and the prayer supports of cardinals and bishops including the Christian communities and all Nigerians during the period of the captivity.
He said that the bishop though weak from the trauma he went through, was in stable health adding the driver was quickly rushed to the hospital following the deep cut he sustained in the hands of the kidnappers.