In a statement on Monday, the police public relations officer, Frank Mba said the woman was rescued six months after she arrived in Nigeria from her home country “in an apparent but unsuccessful search for love”.
According to him, the victim arrived in Nigeria late 2019 to visit one Chukwudi Odo, a 54-year-old indigene of Enugu State, whom she met on Facebook on March 8, 2017.
Mba said the visit turned out to be an abduction when Odo refused to allow her go back to her country. He was said to have also prevented her from communicating with anybody.
He added that investigations revealed that the suspect lured Panas into Nigeria “with the aim of confining her, sexually abusing, and extorting money from her”.
He said the victim was rescued by operatives of the Enugu state police command at Neke-Uno village, Enugu east LGA, following a tip-off.
“Irene Torento 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 ‘m’ 54yrs of Enugu Ezike in Igbo-Eze North LGA of Enugu State whom she met on Facebook on 8th March 2017,” Mba said.
“The visit which was originally intended to be for 10-days, however, turned out to be a full case of abduction following Chukwudi Odo’s refusal to allow her return to her country against her will. She was held incommunicado by the suspect, Chukwudi Odo.
“The victim who was critically ill at the time of rescue 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.
“She was immediately taken to the hospital for medical attention where she was admitted from 5th June to 16th June. Preliminary investigations reveal that the suspect, Chukwudi Odo deliberately lured the victim into the country with the aim of confining her, sexually abusing, and extorting money from her.”
Mba said the force is already in contact with the embassy of the Philippines in Nigeria so as to reunite the victim with members of her family.
The statement also said Mohammed Adamu, inspector-general of police, has urged members of the public to tread cautiously in their use of social media.
The IGP also warned against abuse of cyberspace, noting that “such criminal acts will not go undetected and unpunished by the force”.