Tayo AFOLABI

 

Gunmen have freed a popular Akwa Ibom cleric after holding him for about three days.

The cleric, John Okoriko, is the founder of the Solid Rock Kingdom Church in Mkpat Enin, Akwa Ibom State.

The gunmen abducted him on Tuesday at his church premises.

The police spokesperson in Akwa Ibom, Odiko Macdon, told newsmen, Saturday, that Mr Okoriko was released on Friday.

He said the police were still on the trail of the abductors.

“We are following up the matter professionally to ensure that the abductors are brought to book,” said Mr Macdon, a superintendent of police.

A member of Mr Okoriko’s family expressed joy at the cleric’s release.

He said Mr Okoriko worshipped with the congregation at the Uyo branch of the church on Friday, soon after his release.

His abductors had initially demanded N100 million ransom and later reduced it to N30 million.

It is unclear how much they eventually paid.

“We are not aware of any ransom paid to secure his release,” the police spokesperson in Akwa Ibom said.

Abduction-for-ransom has become one of the prevalent crimes in many Nigerian cities.

Apart from clerics and rich Nigerians, students have become easy targets of mass abduction, especially in northern Nigeria.

Nigerians travelling through interstate highways have also become regular targets.

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