Michael Chukwuebuka, Reporting
Presiding Justice of the Court of Appeal, Owerri, Imo State, Justice Rita Pemu, on Sunday, escaped from the stranglehold of her kidnappers after she was mistaken for one of her stewards because of her attire.
She was said to be on her way from Benin City, the Edo State capital to Owerri, when the incident happened at about 11:00a.m along Azia-Orsumoghu-Ihiala road.
Secretary of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Owerri branch, Mr Chinedu Agu, gave the gory details of how Justice Pemu was waylaid and taken into custody without the gunmen knowing she was the target they were looking for.
The statement, e-signed by Mr Abu, read in part:
“Yesterday, Sunday the 20th day of February, 2022, the Presiding Justice of the Court of Appeal, while traveling to Owerri from Benin City, was kidnapped along Azia-Orsumoghu-Ihiala Road by Kidnappers at about 11am.
“When the Chairman of the Bar, J.I. Ogamba and the Secretary, Chinedu Agu, paid His Lordship a visit at 5pm today, the Secretariat gathered that the Kidnappers double-crossed His Lordship’s vehicle at a Speed Break, disembarking her and ordering her to lie prostrate on the road, while pointing guns menacingly on her head.
“Hon. Justice Pemu, who by happenstance was rather in her Hiace Bus instead of her SUV and was dressed in a simple, spartan and free-flowing gown was mistaken by the Kidnappers as one of “oga’s stewards,” as they kept demanding to know in which car their “oga” was.
“While she was matched into a thick forest, one of the Kidnappers, the Secretariat gathered, was boasting that he would have wasted their oga if he were there.
“As his Lordship was matched into the Bush like a death-destined Sheep to the slaughter, gun shots and concomitant cries of anguish pervaded the bush, which heightened her apprehension.
“As the Kidnappers backed out for his Lordship to continue the Golgotha walk into the depth of the bush, where perhaps she would face the doomed fate of others, she detoured and took safety elsewhere, and was hurried back to Orlu town in disguise from where she found her way into Owerri.
“As at the time of this report, His Lordship’s official cars, her Driver, her personal property inside the car are yet to be found.
“As we condemn the spate of kidnapping and unsettling height of insecurity in the State, we thank God for the life of Hon. Justice Rita Pemu.”