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Police nab alleged killers of Ebonyi Catholic church worshippers

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The Ebonyi State Police Command, on Tuesday, paraded 17 suspects for various crimes including kidnapping, murder and armed robbery in the state.

Among those paraded were those who allegedly killed three Catholic worshippers at the Immaculate Conception Parish in Abakaliki, the state capital, a day before last Christmas and those who kidnapped some United States returnees in Afikpo, Afikpo Local Government Area of the state.

The Police Public Relations Officer in the state, DSP Joshua Akandu, told journalists during the parade of the suspects that one Friday Igwe and Nnabugwe Ebube were responsible for the murder of three parishioners of Immaculate Catholic Conception Parish, Nkwagu in Abakaliki, the state capital.

He said, “On 24/12/2023, armed men invaded the premises of Immaculate Conception Catholic Church, Nkwagu and killed on Cyril Obinna Mbam, Nwifuru Chukwuebuka Mathew and Alo Onyedikachi Solomon and made away with a black Toyota Corolla belonging to the late Mbam.

“Operatives of the command swung into action and apprehended Friday Igwe and Nnabugwe Ebube and recovered the Toyota Corolla. The apprehended suspects have provided leads for further arrest.”

In an interview with our correspondent, Njoku Michael from Abia State narrated how they carried out the crime and that they collected N40m ransom before freeing the victims.

“We were four persons who carried out the kidnap but it was only two of us who were captured by the police and we don’t know where the others are. We didn’t kill anybody, the lady who died was out of fear, we didn’t shoot anybody. The person who involved me into the kidnap of these persons we kidnapped in Ebonyi didn’t disclose it to me. The man who involved me is a Fulani man, he is my customer. He buys things from me in my shop where I sell provisions.

“The man came to my shop on December 13, 2023 with his cattle. I told him, ‘Alhaji, you have many cows now o.’ But he told me, ‘Yes, the cows are mine.’ I pleaded with him to borrow me N50,000 and promised to pay him back in February. He told me that he had no money and promised to get back to me.

“Five days later, the man came back to me. He didn’t come back with his cattle this time around. He told me that he wanted to carry me to work in Afikpo, Ebonyi State and I had never been to Afikpo before. I asked him the type of work he wanted to carry me told and he told me it’s manure work, that he wanted me to bag it and if I worked hard, I would earn N30,000 or N40,000 in four days. I said okay and called my brother to be taking care of my shop so that I would follow the Alhaji and go for that work.

“I followed the man to Afikpo and we got to Afikpo on that New Year in the evening. He bought me food and lodged me in one hotel. In the money, he stopped a bike and told me to join him in the bike and he took me to a thick forest and told me he was coming back. He went and brought two of his brothers and kept them with me. He didn’t tell me what he wanted me to do and it was evening period.

“He left us and came back with a bag. When he turned it on the ground, it was a gun and a cloth. I asked him what we were going to do with a gun, he asked me, ‘I think you said you were looking for money? This is the time we are going to look for the money. He prepared himself finish and told us to follow him. We got to a bush path where he ordered us to stay in a corner in that bush path.

“When we were in the bush, he saw a jeep coming and shot on the air. The vehicle stopped and he attacked the vehicle and opened it. There were two men and one woman and he ordered the two men and one woman out on the ground and told them to follow us. He was at the front directing us and we followed him to a thick forest. We trekked for two hours before we got to the thick forest.”

Njoku said he got $30 from the N40m ransom paid and that the ransom was both in dollars and naira.

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