A pastor, who was apprehended by irate mob and beaten to stupor for alleged car theft, has been detained by the Abia State Police Command.
The pastor, Onyenweaku Chibunnam, who is the founder of a new generation church identified as the Assembly of the Redeemed at Ohafia, was said to be linked to a car robbery syndicate in the Amaekpu-Ohafia area of the state.
He was nabbed and tied up by irate mob including a vigilante group who reportedly caught him in the act two days ago.
The self-acclaimed pastor, who confessed to the crime, was handed over to operatives of the state Police Command.
Confirming the arrest to newsmen while parading the suspect at the Police Officers Mess in Umuahia, the state capital, on Wednesday, the state Commissioner of Police, CP, Leye Oyebade, said Chibunnam was caught while stealing a Toyota Camry in Ebem Ohafia community, of the Ohafia Local Government Area of the state.
He said Chibunnam was arrested with an accomplice, Prince Nnabugwu, who confessed that they belonged to a car-snatching syndicate.
“They were arrested after stealing the Toyota Camry from where its owner packed it some days ago.
“The suspects were arrested based on a tip-off.
“They confessed to have stolen six Toyota Camry cars from Aba and sold some of them to one Maxwell in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital,” the CP added.
The prime suspect said they did not snatch the car, but stole it from where it was parked.
He explained that it was their sixth in the last few months, adding that he usually sold the cars at 60,000 to one Maxwell who resides in Port Harcourt.
The pastor said, “Maxwell contacted me sometime last year to buy my car that I put up for sale, but he didn’t give me a good price for it, so, I couldn’t sell it to him. But when I stole an old model Toyota Camry last year, I called him to come and take the car I stole.
“We started having a misunderstanding when he requested the car’s original papers and I couldn’t provide them. I later told him that I stole the car.
“Maxwell became more interested in the business and gave me a master key with which I could steal Toyota Camry cars.
“I used the money from the crime to fund my 30-member church.
“I promise not to return to crime if I am set free by the police. It was the work of the devil,” he added.
Meanwhile, the CP, while urging members of the public to purchase their vehicles from only genuine car dealers, said the owner of the stolen black Camry Saloon had recovered it.
He, however, warned criminals in the state to relocate, saying the command would not relent in its war against criminality in the state.