Kidnappers Take Over Benue Community, Abduct Catholic Church Official, others

Citizens of Owukpa Community in Benue State’s Ogbadibo Local Government Area have been gripped by palpable fear as gunmen suspected of being kidnappers are now abducting residents.

On Wednesday, unknown kidnappers, assumed to be Fulani herders, kidnapped Mr Patrick Jerome, a Catechist attached to the St Mary Immaculate Church Aho, and demanded ransom.

Our correspondent learned that the Catechist was released after a ransom was paid on Friday, thanks to the efforts of family members and the church.

Following that, ten gunmen stormed the Aho market with heavy weapons, shooting randomly to frighten residents, and carried away the wife of a well-known businessman, Aaron Gabriel, also known as Randy, to an unknown destination.

Mr Aaron, who corroborated the claim, said his wife was kidnapped as he was serving clients in his market shop.

The assailants took many things and cash from the establishment, according to him.

They invaded Aho market on Saturday with heavy firearms shooting sporadically before gaining entrance into my shop. They carted away most of my expensive goods. I can’t count how many phones they took and they also went away with all the money I left in the shop. They targeted my wife,” he said.

“Yes, I contacted my wife’s number and chatted with them,” he replied when asked if the kidnappers had made contact. They requested me to provide a hundred million Naira, and I’m not sure where I’d get that kind of money. “I’m perplexed.”

Chief Akogwu Agada, the community’s leader, who also confirmed the two occurrences, said the entire village had been immersed in tension, adding that going out of their home is today a problem because no one knows who will be next.

He claimed that during the most recent incident, the assailants shot another homeowner, who is currently in serious condition and may not live.

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According to the Chief, community stakeholders are currently working with local security to ensure the victim’s release and prevent further attacks.

No one knows where these armed men are coming from. We don’t know their hideout but we are suspecting Fulani herdsmen who have been hitherto attacking the community due to clashes with farmers”, Chief Akogwu added.

He urged the state’s security services to intervene in the area’s security situation as soon as possible.

As of press time, DSP Catherine Anene Sewuese, the state’s Police Public Relations Officer, was unable to accept her calls or respond to text messages provided to her.

Governor Samuel Ortom’s Chief Press Secretary, Terver Akase, was similarly taken aback by the situation.

He pledged to tell the governor and respond as soon as possible.

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