An armed gang has kidnapped a Catholic priest, Alphonsus Uboh, in the church premises in Akwa Ibom State.
The gang of about six men, wielding dangerous weapons reportedly attacked the Parish Priest of X Parish at Ikot Abasi Akpan along Ekparakwa Etinan road in Mkpat Enin Local Government Area of the state on Sunday around 7.00pm.
The armed men reportedly came on three motorcycles and forced their way into the church premises,. shooting sporadically to scare peoplsle away before whisking the priest away to an unknown destination.
Similar attack in the state a few weeks ago was when some gunmen attacked and abducted Founder and President of Solid Rock Kingdom Church, Apostle John Okoriko, in his residence.
Though Okoriko was released after spending spending four days with his captors and paying undisclosed ransom.
The spate of kidnapping in the communities like Ekparakwa village along Ekparakwa/Ikot Abasi road in OrukAnam Local Government area as well as Ikot Ebak, Ikot Akaam, Ibekwe Akpan axis in Mkpat council areas of the state has now become a source of worry to the residents, who are calling on the security authorities to protect them.
Preferring anonymity, a youth leader from Ekparakwa village, said more than 18 persons were abducted in the communities between November last year and April 2023.
He lamented that the area is not safe for residents, saying many shop owners, civil servants such as teachers, nurses and local businessmen in the area have become victims one time or the other.
According to him, a medical doctor at Health Centre, Ikot Ekpaw, a neighbouring village to Ekparakwa, was whisked away at gunpoint as he was attending to patient in the theatre in February this year.
He said: “Many residents of the area, especially in Ikot Akaam could not sleep in their houses at night and many others have fled for fear of being kidnapped or killed by the gunmen.
“There are dangerous spots along Ekparakwa-Ikot Abasi road where the gunmen ambushed market women, traders and motorists.
“There is a deep pothole area after former Hapel company before the sharp corner to Ikot Ebak village as a very deadly zone where the gunmen hide to waylaid their victims adding that many people have been killed on the spot.
“The situation became worst when motorists diverted the bad spot on the road to another by-pass in the village and the gunmen also relocated to the road killing innocent commuters who resisted them in their robbery.
“One day a woman who deals on palm oil returned from market, unknown to her, the gunmen had laid ambush on the diverted road, they intercepted her robbed her of N700,000 cash and killed her.
“Ikot Ebak, Ibekwe Akpan Nya and neighbouring villages in Oruk Anam local government areas have become the centres of kidnappers in recent time.
“The climax of their operations was when the founder of Solid Rock Kingdom Church, Apostle John Okoriko, was abducted in his residence few weeks ago.
“The man of God was released from the kidnappers’ den, two persons were shot dead in the community last Wednesday.
“Even last week Wednesday, after Apostle Okoriko was released, the gunmen returned to the village and killed Okoriko’s friend and one of his relations in an early morning raid.
“The kidnappers have converted the bush in one of the primary schools to their hide out where they caged their victims.”