•Security agencies comb Ohaji/Egbema, Aboh Mbaise forests in Imo
•Recover vehicle of abducted monarch
•We’re finalising on launching community security outfit —Govt
•Fleeing residents of Etekwuru community urged to return
Reign of terror has continued in Imo State as gunmen at the early hours of yesterday, abducted the traditional ruler of Mbutu ancient kingdom in Aboh Mbaise Local Government Area of Imo State, Eze Damian Nwaigwe.
The monarch was abducted at his palace around 2:30 am, a community source who chose to remain anonymous confided in our correspondent.
The source said: “The traditional ruler of Mbutu ancient kingdom in Aboh Mbaise Local Government Area of Imo state, Eze Damian Nwaigwe, has been kidnapped. The respected king was kidnapped at his palace around 2.30 am, on Thursday.
“Those who kidnapped him were many. They came in vehicles and were more than 10. They barricaded his palace, shot indiscriminately until they whisked the monarch away in an already steaming vehicle.
“The palace of the king is excluded. He built his house far from where other villagers live. That was why it wasn’t difficult for him to have been kidnapped without any resistance from his subjects.”
He added that the palace of the monarch is situated a bit away from the residences of the subjects.
It was gathered that the incident threw the villagers into panic as they kept wake till dawn.
The state Police Public Relations Officer, CSP Micheal Abattam, confirmed the incident and said the command had swung into action to ensure the monarch is released unhurt.
Investigation by Vanguard revealed that the security agencies have combed the forests of Ohaji/Egbema and Aboh Mbaise Local Government Areas of Imo State, following the kidnap of the traditional ruler.
An intelligence officer who spoke to Vanguard in Owerri, also said efforts have been intensified within the forests of Ohaji/Egbema to apprehend the bandits behind last Wednesday attack in the Etekwuru community.
However, the Imo State Police Public Relations Officer, PPRO, Micheal Abattam, has confirmed that the command has recovered the vehicle of the abducted Mbutu monarch, Eze Nwaigwe few hours after the monarch was abducted.
According to the police image maker, “We have recovered the vehicle of the abducted monarch but has not found him. We are trailing the kidnappers.”
Vanguard equally gathered from a source close to the government that some top government officials and security agencies have been in a strategy meeting on how to arrest the security situation.
Part of the plan was for the governor to come back quickly and launch the community security outfit.
“We are working seriously on this new dimension of insecurity. We are closing in on them and at any moment we will expose them. They will be apprehended. Both government and security top officials have been meeting since two days ago and we are not sleeping over it. Just watch and see what will happen.”
To this end, tension has mounted on and around the affected communities as security agencies and members of the communities were collaborating to expose the hideout of the kidnap syndicate.
Recall that a community in Imo State, Etekwuru community in Ohaji/Egbema Local Government Area of Imo State was invaded Wednesday by gunmen who came in a convoy of motorcycles and attacked the community killing many and leaving others wounded.
Many indigenes were also forced to flee the community.
However, the traditional ruler of Etekwuru community in Ohaji/Egbema Local Government Area of Imo State, Eze Kenneth Okereke, yesterday, said a base would be provided for those who fled the community as a result of gunmen attacks to return home.
The traditional ruler who spoke to Vanguard in Owerri said the village town crier has been going to neighbouring communities to pass the message for the fleeing villagers to return home.
When Vanguard asked about his plan to provide security, he said the community has reached out to the security agencies for adequate security to be provided.
According to the Monarch, “We have informed the town crier to go round the village and the neighbouring communities to inform them to come back to their homes. He has gone round twice.
“The communities are Ubokofia, Akuba, Mgbara and other communities surrounding Etekwuru community. Some have returned and you know because of this continued attack, many people are still running away.
“We have reached to the security agencies to please come and protect those who have started coming back home. We are trying to put up a base at a primary school in the community where some of the returnees will be quartered and protected.”
Vanguard also reached out to other villagers who said that they were still much in fear because of the last attacks.
According to one of the villagers who pleaded not to mention his name told Vanguard, “We are afraid and the way things are going now it is difficult to enter the village. We want to be fully assured of our security and that our children and houses will be protected this time around.
“The government should act very fast and let us have peace of mind. They should go after these boys doing this and their sponsors. We want to be safe and come and do our agricultural activities.
“Since Wednesday we left, we have not eaten and many of our belongings have been stolen. Our houses have been destroyed. Where do we start from now.”
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