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Police arrest pastor for allegedly collecting ransom for kidnappers

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Police arrest pastor for allegedly collecting ransom for kidnappers
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Police arrest pastor for allegedly collecting ransom for kidnappers

A 45-year-old pastor, Ndifreke Udo Amos, has been arrested by operatives of the FIB Intelligence Response Team (FIB-IRT) for allegedly helping a kidnap gang in the abduction of an 80-year-old man, Pa Anthony Ugbuzor Idornigie.

The octogenarian victim was said to be sitting in his house at No 7, Garage Street, Itoki, Lagos on November 14 last year when Amos walked in with a bible in his hand and started preaching to him.

In the middle of Amos’ sermon, another stranger was said to have walked into the compound and claimed to be in search of accommodation. Pa Idornigie was said to have offered him one, but the stranger said he should follow him to collect the amount demanded as rent because he did not have the money on him.

While Pa Idornigie was said to have been reluctant about following the stranger, Pastor Amos allegedly urged him to do so. In the process of following the stranger, however, Pa Idornigie was abducted by some people the police now believe were working in cahoots with the pastor.

Three days later, Pa Idornigie’s abductors were said to have called the family, demanding N20 million as ransom.

The police was said to have become curious about Pa Amos’ involvement in the kidnap saga on realising that a POS account belonging to him was being used by the gang to receive the sums paid in installments as ransom.

Police arrest pastor for allegedly collecting ransom for kidnappers

FIB-IRT operatives were said to have swung into action immediately they learnt about Pa Idornigie’s plight, rescuing the octogenarian from his abductors and tracing Amos to Agbado/Crossing part of Lagos State where his POS kiosk was situated.

The police source said investigation into the matter revealed that Pastor Amos was a member of the gang with the specific role of going to the houses of would be victims to prepare the ground for their abduction.

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A female member of the gang was also said to be assigned the role of making friends with people believed to be well doing and could be kidnapped for ransom, while others were saddled with the task of taking custody of the gang’s victims until their ransoms were paid.

Members of Idornigie’s family were said to have paid various installments beginning with N850,000 on November 17, 2020. Other payments made to the gang, according to the police source, include another N850,000, N250,000, N50,000, N50,000, N200,000, N650,000, N350,000 and N150,000.

The last payment of N150,000 to the said account was said to have been made by the police themselves and tagged “payment for ransom” after the matter had been reported by the family; a development said to have made Amos very uncomfortable.

A visit the FIB-IRT operatives made to Amos’ kiosk was said not to have yielded any result as they met Amos’ absence. They were, however, told upon enquiries that Amos was the pastor in charge of a nearby church where a service was going on.

The operatives then joined the congregation for service during which they monitored the suspect and planned how to arrest him without causing a steer or disrupting the service.

They were said to have allowed the service to end before they started following Amos to his house without him suspecting that they were on his trail.

He was eventually picked up in a dramatic manner as he was about to enter his house.

The operatives were said to have stopped him as he was about to get into his compound, flashed their identity cards and told him that he was under arrest. Thereafter, they told him to lead them to his POS kiosk where they recovered some vital documents, including those that were used in transactions involving the kidnapping gang.

Amos was said to have admitted ownership of the account number into which the ransom of N150,000 was paid, and upon interrogation at the Southwest office of FIB-IRT headed by Joel Igbinazaka Ugowe, a Superintendent of Police, he was also said to have confessed that he removed the female attendant at the POS kiosk, and conducted the transaction himself because he feared that the secret deals could become known to the young lady.

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Speaking with the reporter in an interview, Amos, who described himself as an indigene of Akwa Ibom State, said: “I am a pastor with The Will of God Gospel Mission church in Agbado/Crossing, a suburb of Lagos State, and my residence is very close to the church.

“I became a pastor in 2015 and I have been with the church since then. I was not on salary, but the General Overseer pays me a monthly stipend as upkeep money and also pays my children’s school fees.

“Rich men and women as well as others who God has blessed in one way or the other also give me money, especially when they are giving testimonies and thanking God for what He did for them.”

Asked why he displayed his account number on his POS kiosk, he said it was so that his customers who had need of it would have access and not for criminal purposes.

He added: “I was riding a commercial motorcycle to augment the upkeep money my General Overseer was giving me.

“In 2019, my General Overseer and founder of the church gave me N300,000 to start a POS business and I started it between September and October.

“I reside very close to my church, so I put a female operator there because I would not be able to do the two works at the same time.”

On the allegation that he sacked the lady attendant at his kiosk because he feared that she could leak his deals with kidnappers, he said: “I did not sack the girl. I only told her that I wanted to manage the POS by myself because from what was happening, I felt she would not be able to manage the problems with the operation of POS.”

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Police arrest pastor for allegedly collecting ransom for kidnappers

He also denied being the one that gave the kidnappers his account number, saying: “Yes, it was my account details that were sent to the victim’s family to pay in the ransom. But I was not the one who sent it and I did not know who sent it.

“I pasted my account details in front of my POS kiosk for easy access by my customers who might have need for it. I did not paste it there for criminal purposes.

“Eight hundred and fifty thousand naira (#850,000) was paid twice through my POS. They had started paying in money when my girl was still operating the POS for me. They were paying bit by bit: N25,000, N50,000, N50,000, N100,000, N200,000 and so on.

“The one of N150,000, I was in the church when she called me and said the customer was in a hurry and asked me whether the money had entered and I said yes I saw an alert with ‘ransom demand’.

“I had to call her back to explain more because I suspected that something was fishy with the tag ‘ransom demand’.

“I later went to the nearest police station to report the strange occurrence. When I got there and reported the matter, the police gave me a sheet to write a statement.

“After writing my statement, they asked me to go home and relax and see it as one of the troubles one usually experiences in that kind of business.

“But to my greatest surprise, on the 24th February, 2021, the same police officer who asked me to go home and relax was the person who came and arrested me.

He took me to the police station and handed me over to plain-clothed operatives who had been there waiting for my arrival at the police station.

“They were very happy to see me, and that was how I was arrested.”

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Prophetess, woman sentenced to life imprisonment for killing lover with poison

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Prophetess, woman sentenced to life imprisonment for killing lover with poison
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Prophetess, woman sentenced to life imprisonment for killing lover with poison

A Rivers State High Court sitting in Port Harcourt has convicted and sentenced two women, Onyema Worlu, and Edina Lovelyn-Worleru, to life improvement for causing the death of a man, Israel Georgewill.

Lovelyn-Worleru, a prophetess in a church in Rumuche community, in the Emohua Local Government Area of the state, was said to have prepared a poisonous substance in the name of love portion for Worlu to put in the food of her boyfriend, Georgewill, in 2012.

The trial judge, Justice Adolphus Enebeli, in his judgment after over nine years of legal battle, found the two guilty of the crime and convicted them.

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Justice Enebeli convicted them for manslaughter, instead of the murder charge in an earlier suit on the incident.

Prophetess, woman sentenced to life imprisonment for killing lover with poison

The judge held that the prosecution proved its case and that the statements of the first defendant, Worlu, at the police station were voluntarily given.

In the statement, the convict admitted that she administered the love potion as prepared by the prophetess in order to get financial assistance from Georgewill, adding that never knew it would result in his death.

Enebeli, after considering the facts presented by the parties, convicted and sentenced the two women to life imprisonment without any fine option.

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The prosecutor, Chidi Ekah, said the judgment was not only justice for the deceased and his family, but also for the state and Nigeria at large.

He said, “I am happy that this matter has come to an end. It does not mean that I am happy that somebody’s life will be wasted in prison. We do not take delight in that, but the law must take its course. After all, somebody was killed and so the law says if you kill, this is the punishment for you.

“The court was even magnanimous enough to reduce it from murder to manslaughter. I am happy that justice has been served.”

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But counsel for the first defendant, Vincent Chukwu, said his team would appeal the judgment.

“The fight is not over; it will certainly get to the Supreme Court,” Chukwu stated.

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Religion

CAN Suspends Sunday Congo For Congratulating Pantami

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CAN Suspends Sunday Congo For Congratulating Pantami

The Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN has suspended its Gombe State Caretaker Chairman, Rev. Sunday Congo.

Congo was suspended after he wrote a congratulatory letter to the Minister of Communication and Digital Economy, Isa Pantami, without the approval of the association’s National Executive Committee.

CAN State Secretary in Gombe, Apostle John Adedigba, in a letter on behalf of all the members of the caretaker committee congratulated Pantami on his recent reported “promotion to the rank of a Professor of Cyber Security” by the Governing Council of Federal University of Technology, Owerri.

They stated in the letter that they were “proud” of Pantami as a “son”.

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However, CAN in a letter by its General Secretary, Joseph Daramola, dated September 15 2021, titled: ‘Letter of Suspension’, sent to CAN caretaker committee chairman in Gombe, stated that the congratulatory letter was issued without the consent of the mother body.

Part of the letter read, “Following the recent publications of your congratulatory message to the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr. Isa Pantami, CAN writes to inform you that your action has generated a lot of concerns amongst members of the Christian Association of Nigeria.

CAN Suspends Sunday Congo For Congratulating Pantami

“This action of yours in publishing on behalf of the association is tantamount to unilateral decision of you and overzealousness on your part, which was done without authorization and clearance.”

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CAN described the letter without its executive’s permission as provocative, adding that he does not represent their position.

“It is not only provocative but undermines the CAN NEC executive. It does not in any way represent their position.

“In view of this, you are hereby directed to relinquish your position in Gombe CAN executive with immediate effect and hand over all CAN’s property to your next in line in your bloc.”

CAN further advised that the body be consulted in future and an approval obtained from the authority of CAN national level in order for everyone to speak with one voice.

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Religion

Sheikh Gumi Promoting Banditry In Northern Nigeria

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Sheikh Gumi Promoting Banditry In Northern Nigeria
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Sheikh Gumi Promoting Banditry In Northern Nigeria

The Christian organisation demanded a thorough probe on the activities of Sheikh Gumi, expressing concerns that the security crises and banditry in the north would be prolonged as the Almajiri system continued unchecked.

The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) has accused Kaduna State-based Islamic scholar, Sheikh Ahmad Gumi, of being responsible for the increasing activities of bandits in the northern part of the country.

The Christian organisation demanded a thorough probe on the activities of Sheikh Gumi, expressing concerns that the security crises and banditry in the north would be prolonged as the Almajiri system continued unchecked.

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The Imo State CAN Chairman, Rev Dr Divine Eches, raised the concerns in an interview in Abuja ahead of its 45th anniversary and Founder’s Day scheduled for Friday in Owerri.

He advised that the Nigerian government should caution Sheikh Gumi whose utterances, he said, had emboldened the bandits, thereby promoting their inhumane acts in the North.

Sheikh Gumi Promoting Banditry In Northern Nigeria

He maintained that except drastic measures were taken to curb the Almajiri system, banditry would remain in northern Nigeria for a long time with devastating effects on the socio-economic lives of the people.

He said, “You can’t have the Almajiri system of life and government in the last 40 years in our nation, bringing up people without any trace to families, hometowns or nationalities. These children are scattered all over the streets, without you knowing that someday, they would leave the streets and go to the bush where they would begin to do the trade of kidnapping.

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“Also, you can’t, in a sane nation, have the likes of Sheikh Gumi, a religious scholar, going about promoting banditry and you don’t think that this will continue. Yet, that is what we are seeing today. We are not seeing anything more than what we have planted.

“We allowed this thing (insecurity) to continue and it is now going to consume the nation if drastic measures are not put in place to take them (Almajiri) out of the streets. Give them a sense of belonging, put them in school, and help them realise their potential.

“These bandits were the Almajiri who used to be in front of our houses and begging. Howbeit, we are praying and that is why God is still sustaining our nation. I trust God will continue to sustain us in Jesus name.”

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