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News Analysis: Child Kidnap, Rituals Resurface In Imo As Schools Are Shut Indefinitely

Ignatius Okpara in Owerri

What seems like the  “Otokoto” days, a period some ruthless suspected ritual syndicates held Owerri and environ hostage as well as terrorised the people of the area for quite a long time is gradually rearing its ugly head again in the Heartland state.

Unless urgent steps are taking by the Rochas Okorocha led All Progressive Congress APC administration in the state and security operatives to fight the ugly development head long, residents of the state, may soon start fleeing to other safer areas outside Imo.

Imo state governor Rochas Okorocha

Imo state governor Rochas Okorocha

The state, no doubt, had been quite relatively calm since Okorocha took over its mantle of leadership some three years ago, as criminal activities including the Advance Free fraud, otherwise known as (419) had been reduced to the barest minimum if not completely disappeared.

Apart form the issue of child trafficking which had been on the increase for some time now in the state, Imolites, have been going to bed with two eyes closed, unlike what it used to be some five years ago, when all forms of criminality became the order of the day.

However, if the present alleged alarming kidnapping of school pupil as well as their frequent killings by ritualists in parts of the once   peaceful state is any thing to go by, one would say that Otokoto, the killer squad, has returned back to Imo state.

For instance, primary schools in Imo State, had on Wednesday and Thursday this week, closed shops following reports of cases of child kidnap in parts of the state.

An Octogenarian Imolite, who hails from Akokwa, Ideato south council area of the state, who do not want his name in the print, told African Examiner, that child kidnapping and ritual killings have fully returned to the state, a development that has sent fears into many homes especially in the rural communities.

Our Investigations revealed that the panic that greeted the schools as a result of the worrisome development, forced most of the school heads in the state to close down their schools for fear of uncertainty.

African Examiner gathered that there was announcement of the development in various churches within Orlu Catholic Diocese last Sunday.

A source told our correspondent that leaders of the church in the Diocese, made the announcement with a view to alerting their fateful with the ugly trend, which he said, has thrown Imo parents into perpetual fear.

Only last Sunday, four school children were kidnapped and killed with their vital parts said to have been removed away by their abductors.

Also last Monday, rumours had it that a tricycle (keke) operator who usually takes children of a family to school, disappeared with the three children and since then had not been traced.

In a similar vein, there was pandemonium across the state last Tuesday, as news of seven children kidnapped while on their way to school, filtered into Owerri.

Same Tuesday, there were rumours in Owerri that gunmen invaded primary schools at Amaraku in Isiala Mbano Local government area, Amaigbo and Owerre Nkworji communities in Nwangele and Nkwerre Local Government Areas respectively,  thereby forcing parents and guardians to withdraw their kids from schools. The rumors did not abate even after the state commissioner of police on same Tuesday assured the people of the state to be calm.

There was another story of school child abduction in a community in Owerri West council area same last Wednesday.

The unfortunate situation, our correspondent further gathered has compelled most parents to stop their children from going to school, just as they locked them inside their houses against the prowling eyes of the rampaging child kidnappers.

As at the time of filing this report on Friday, most schools in the state-especially those in places like Orlu, Njaba, Nkwerre, Nwangele and Isiala Mbano council local governments areas were under lock and key with no teachers and pupils around.

But in a statement on Thursday in Owerri, the Imo state police public Relations officer PPRO, Mrs. Joy Elomoko, in the Nigerian police usual way, dismissed the rumours.

The Imo police image maker, advised the people of the state to go about their normal business and ignore the rumours.


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