Police personnel have rescued a 40-year-old Filipino lady, Irene Panas, allegedly held hostage by one Chukwudi Odo, whom she met on Facebook in 2019.
Panas, an accountant based in Manila, was lured to Nene-Uno village in the Enugu East Local Government Area of Enugu State, where she spent six months, while being sexually abused by her supposed lover.
After her rescue, the victim was immediately taken to hospital, where she was admitted from June 5 to June 16, 2020.
The police explained that Panas, who had a month visa, had planned to spend 10 days in Nigeria, but was forced to stay for six months against her will.
The force spokesman, DCP Frank Mba, who paraded Odo in Abuja on Monday, explained that his victim was critically ill at the time of her rescue, noting that she was held incommunicado by the suspect.
He stated, “Irene Panas, an accountant by profession and a native of Manila in the Philippines, arrived Nigeria on November 22, 2019, on a visit to one Chukwudi Odo, 54, of Enugu Ezike in the Igbo-Eze North LGA of Enugu State, whom she met on Facebook on March 8, 2017.
“The visit, which was originally intended for 10 days, however, turned out to be a full case of abduction following Odo’s refusal to allow her to return to her country. She was held incommunicado by the suspect.”
Mba added, “The victim, who was critically ill, was successfully rescued by police operatives attached to the Unity Police Division, Ibegwa Nike, Enugu State, led by the DPO, SP Siga Malgwi, following a tip-off from some members of the public in the area.
“Preliminary investigation revealed that Odo deliberately lured the victim into the country with the aim of confining her, sexually abusing her and extorting money from her.”
Odo, however, defended his action, insisting that he planned to marry Panas and had discussed his plans with her family members.
He accused the Nene-Uno community of informing the police about Panas, because he did not take her to hospital.
The suspect stated, “I met her on Facebook in March 2017 and we became friends. We were in touch on a regular basis. Then, we agreed to marry each other. I told her that I could not leave my country for another country. I also told her that I was financially handicapped.
“In November 2019, she came to Nigeria; I even wrote to the Embassy of Philippines intimating them of the arrival of Irene. It happened that I had a minor land issue with the people of Nene-Uno, where I am residing.”
When asked if he paid the bride price for Panas before having sexual relations with her, he said, “No, but we are in the process.
“The police did not arrest me; it was the Nene-Uno people, who alleged that my woman was sick and I did not take her to hospital. They came to my house on June 1, asking me to take her to hospital; I wanted to take her to hospital for a pregnancy test. It was an agreement between her family and I that I would marry her.”
Asked how and where he met the family, the suspect, who is separated from his wife, kept mum.
The police said they were in contact with the Embassy of the Philippines in Nigeria in order to reunite the victim with her family.