Gunmen Abduct Winners Chapel Pastor in Calabar, Insiders Suspected
The kidnappers reportedly stormed the church premises about 8.00pm, shot sporadically before whisking the cleric away to an unknown destination.
The dastardly act has reportedly sent shock among the congregants of the church located next to the headquarters of the Airport Division of the Nigeria Police in Calabar. Few members of the church who had gathered to pray for the Sunday service were present when the abductors struck.
Police were said to have responded to an emergency call but it was late as the dare-devil gunmen had fled with the pastor. As at the time of this report, no trace of the pastor had been found but police said they were optimistic he would be released and the abductors apprehended.
A witness said that three armed kidnappers entered the church building unnoticed during the prayer session, while a fourth person, who was masked, identified the pastor in the midst of the praying group.
The pastor was immediately hedged by the abductors and taken away. The popular theory was that the masked person that identified the pastor may be familiar with the church or known by the pastor.
The kidnappers were said to have had their waiting vehicle parked just by the entrance to the church along the ever-busy IBB Way, directly opposite the Margaret Ekpo International Airport.
“The kidnappers came in during the normal Saturday prayers around 8pm. A group, which includes the pastor, normally gathers to pray for the next day’s (Sunday) service. Three of them were armed while the fourth one, who was not armed, came forward to identify our Pastor to the kidnappers.
“Their vehicle was on standby. I am sure the person that identified the pastor among those praying was an insider; someone who knows the church.
“They walked in quietly when the prayer session was on”, a witness said.
Another eyewitness said “the police were contacted while the kidnappers were still inside the church, but added that their response was slow.
“They wasted some time before they drove towards the Bypass. I am sure if the police had come at the nick of time, they would have been able to rescue the pastor,”
Reacting to the allegation of delayed response, the State Police Public Relations Officer, PPRO, Mr. Hogan Bassey, disagreed with the members, saying the police, led by the Divisional Police Officer of the Airport Division, Mr. Asuquo Ebong, stormed the venue immediately the information got to them.
He said: “The police went there as soon as they got the distress call. The DPO was physically there with the team that went there.
“We are seriously trailing the kidnappers and I assure you that the pastor will soon be released,” the PPRO declared.