The crisis rocking Ogbozinne-Akpugo community, Nkanu West Council, Enugu state over the death of its traditional ruler, Igwe Stephen Nwatu, took another dimension with the arrest of the Parish Priest of Emmanuel Methodist Church, Ogbozinne, Rev Kenneth Azikiwe Okafor.
Okafor, billed to appear before the judicial panel of Inquiry set up by the state government over the crisis rocking the community on Monday was allegedly picked at the Church premises around 12.45 pm by three heavily armed security operatives and whisked to an unknown destination.
The unidentified operatives who were said to be accompanied by one of the leaders of the community had on grabbing the Priest, seized his mobile phone and dragged him into their waiting van to the chagrin of few church members at the scene who took to their heels.
The Bishop of the Methodist Church, Agbani Diocese, Rt Rev Meregini, who confirmed the incident, told reporters that the whereabouts of the priest had remained unknown.
“I got a call from the Presbyter in charge of the circuit this afternoon that Rev Okafor had been arrested by some persons with police inscription.
The people that arrested him did not state the reason why they were arresting him. They took him away like a common criminal in the church premises and took off.
“We have called his phone severally and it’s been off. We don’t know where they have taken him to. But I have serious suspicion that it must have a link with the crisis in the community.
I have sent my Priests to the Divisional Police headquarters in Agbani; they came back and reported that the station said they know nothing about the arrest.
I have sent them to the Area Command, but they are yet to come back. The truth is that we are still searching for him and making inquiries at various police stations to see if we can track him and also to know why they arrested him”, he said.
He appealed to “whoever that is holding the Priest of God should please release him”, stressing that, “he is not a native of Ogbozinne but a missionary”
Contacted, the Police Public Relations Officer in the state, Ebere Amaraizu said he was yet to be briefed on the development.
“Please, let me inquire and know who carried out the arrest and why he was arrested. As at now, I am yet to be briefed on the development”, he said.
The Community had on Thursday raised the alarm over indiscriminate arrests of natives by the police, alleging that it was impeding the work of the judicial panel of Inquiry hearing the crisis as its people have gone into hiding for fear of arrest.
Igwe Stephen Nwatu was allegedly mobbed to death on June 11, this year, while attempting to prevent community members from responding to an invitation from Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi on the crisis rocking the community.