Tragedy struck in Nkwerre in the Nkwerre Local Government Area of Imo state, Monday night after car-snatching gunmen gruesomely murdered a Catholic priest, Rev. Fr Jude Egbuom and made away with his vehicle.
The gunmen equally murdered a young man whose identity could not be ascertained immediately.
The man was reportedly with the priest in his vehicle when the criminals struck.
A native of the community told our correspondent on Tuesday morning that the priest, identified as Rev Fr. Jude Egbuom was till his untimely death, the priest in charge of St Patrick’s Catholic Parish, Amucha, in the Njaba LGA of the state.
He hailed from Umuwala, a village in Nkwerre Community. He was attacked around 8pm when he went to a barber’s salon on Anara -Nkwerre road in Nkwerre town to shave when his attackers ambushed him.
He reportedly resisted handing over his car keys to his killers, which angered them.
The cleric was immediately shot together with the other victim in his vehicle, while the criminals fled.
A native of the community said “the circumstances surrounding the killing of the priest indicated that it was a case of armed robbery.
“It could not have been a case of assassination who did the gentle priest offend? He was from our community, Nkwerre and was doing his missionary work at Njaba, a nearby LGA”.
When contacted, the police spokesperson, Andrew Enwerem, confirmed the killings, and said that the police commissioner, Dasuki Galadanchi, had deployed Tactical Units of the command in the area.
The police spokesperson said “the incident is confirmed. Rev Fr. Jude Egbuom of St Patrick’s Catholic parish Amucha was murdered last night.
Another person whose identity had yet to be identified was also killed by the hoodlums. The priest was in his priestly regalia when they shot him dead”.
“The hoodlums shot sporadically in a mall housing a phone accessories and a barber’s salon. The priest was hit by the bullet. Two persons, the priest and another person’s whose identity could not be confirmed immediately lost their lives. The hoodlums made away with the vehicle belonging to the slain cleric”.
“It is important to note that the CP has responded immediately by deploying Tactical Units of the command in the area. The CP has charged the investigating officers to round up the killers immediately. We are a top of the situation”.
Before returning to Nigeria to continue missionary work the cleric was said to have served the Catholic pontiff in Rome. It was also gathered that he was billed to travel to the United State of America (USA) this weekend and may have visited his community to intimate his people about the movement.
Meanwhile, it was learnt that his vehicle which the hoodlums made away with after murdering him has been recovered. The vehicle which was reportedly recovered at Amaraku, Isiala Mbano LGA, was said to have contained a pool of blood and grey brain matters which seem to indicate that the killers may have abducted and murdered a third person as they escaped or turned the gun on the themselves. This suspicion according eyewitnesses arose because the priest and the second victim were murdered, outside the vehicle before their attackers fled with it.