From George Onyejiuwa, Owerri
Palpable fear have gripped the residents of Amanator Okporo community in Orlu council Area of the state area of Imo state, as vigilante operatives foiled the attempted abduction of an Italy based businessman, prince Valentino Ibenye-Ugbala by gunmen inside St. Joseph’s Catholic Church, Okporo.
Our correspondent learnt the gunmen had tried to abduct the businessman at about 11 .30 am last inside St. Joseph’s Catholic Church during a service on January 3.
It was that gathered that the gunmen who invaded the church had dispossessed Ibenye-Ugbala of cash and other valuables.
This was just as the hoodlums fired sporadic shots while shop owners in front of the church and nearby Orie Okporo market as well as motorists scampered to safety for fear of being hit by stray bullets.
According a community source the vigilante men, who were alerted to strange movements in front of the church, blocked all suspected exit routes in the community but the gunmen escaped towards Akata Road.
However, narrating his ordeal Valentino, a native of Amanator Okporo, in Orlu L.G.A. said he had gone to St. Joseph’s Catholic Church to honour five different invitations comprising, invitation from the Parish Priest Rev. Fr, Kenneth, for church harvest, for child dedication, memorial service of his friend’s late father, special thanksgiving of a family friend and the 50th wedding anniversary of Chief Linus Igwe.
According to him, “As I drove inside the church premises with my sister’s daughter in search of a parking space, I noticed some boys on a motorcycle enter the car park. Suddenly four other motorcycles also came into the car park, instead of the place made for motorcycles to park. All the motorcycles had no plate/ identification numbers. One of them jumped down and pointed a gun at me and ordered me to quietly follow them or they would shoot at me. It was then I realized that they were kidnappers.
Continuing ,”I tried to attract attention but no one came. When I refused to follow them, they pounced on me, tore my clothes, hit the butt of their guns on my head repeatedly, collected my two phones, wrist watch, neckless, and cash of N1.150m and eight hundred and fifty dollars ($850).
“As I managed to run into the church auditorium and they followed me inside the chuch for more than one hour. When the church called the police, they all ran away before their arrival leaving one of their motorcycles behind.”
He disclosed that it was the Amanator vigilante group and a special squad from the police, and DCP, Benneth Igwe from Akatta who sent his boys to rescue him and took him to the hospital where he was still to receiving treatment.