SSS, soldiers arrest seven suspected kidnappers in church

A cleric in Awkuzu, Oyi Local Government Area of Anambra State is now on the run after a combined team of operatives of the State Security Services (SSS) and soldiers smashed a kidnapping gang allegedly led by him.

The security agents, however, arrested seven members of the gang -five men and two women- at the church during a raid.

The pastor’s yellow Sports Utility Vehicle (SUV), which he apparently abandoned while fleeing, was recovered by the security agents close to his church.

Also seized were four motorcycles, one generating set, a dane gun, international passports of kidnap victims and assorted materials from the church turned shrine.

Four kidnapped persons were rescued during the operation.

Freed are 33-year-old Solomon Nwanna Okonkwo from Obosi in the Idemili South Local Government Area of the state; Monday Osagie, 50, from Edo State; Udenna Ikedigwe from Unukwu in Anam, Anambra West Local Government Area; and Amechi Oraekie from Awkuzu.

The four were kidnapped between Friday last week and Tuesday this week and taken to the church which serves as detention camp of the gang.

The State Director of SSS, Mr. Alexander Okeiyi, said preliminary investigation showed that the gang masterminded the February 2,2013 abduction of the Rev. James Goziem Achugbu of Saint Paul ’s Anglican Church, Umunachi in the state.

He said efforts were in top gear to arrest other members of the gang that escaped during the raid.

Before the rescue operation, the kidnappers had demanded a ransom of N20million for Solomon Okonkwo, N50million for Monday Osagie and N10million for Udenna Ikedigwe.

Some people were said to have paid N2.5million to the gang to eliminate Amaechi Oraekie as a fallout of a squabble over property.

The raid also led to the recovery of a Nissan Sunny car, belonging to another victim, Princewill Emmanuel Abian, described as a tipper driver from Cross River state.

Okeiyi said Abian was released by the gang on February 20, after paying N100,000.

The Nation

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