The deployment of Closed-Circuit Television (CCTV) cameras on trees, drones and helicopters by the Anambra State government for aerial surveillance, complemented by the use of intelligence reports by the security agencies to monitor flash points to ensure a crime-free Christmas and New Year celebrations has yielded fruits.
Security operatives yesterday rescued two Catholic priests who were held hostage but abandoned after three days by their kidnappers for fear of being tracked by the security hi-technology devices and arrested.
The two priests rescued are Rev Fr. Peter Nwachukwu, Parish Priest of St. Theresa’s Parish Umueze-Anam in Anambra West Local Council and Rev Fr. Cajetan Apeh, his Assistant.
Disclosing this to newsmen in Awka yesterday, the state Commissioner of Police, Garba Baba Umar, said, “The successful rescue operation was as a result of intensive search-and-rescue operations mounted by the joint team for the priests since the incident took place and with the aid of a modern technology and aerial surveillance due to difficult terrain, the abductors were forced to abandon their victims at about 6:45pm last Thursday.
“The victims were kidnapped at Nneyi village, Umuleri area at about 7:30 p.m. of the fateful day while they were returning to prepare for the visit of Cardinal Francis Arinze to the town.
“A patrol team attached to Otuocha Division recovered the light grey Toyota Corolla car marked FST 689 FL in which the victims were traveling, but which was abandoned by the kidnappers on the Nneyi Umueri axis.”
The Commissioner of Police who spoke through the Command’s Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), SP Haruna Mohammed revealed that the two priests were rescued after some successful joint security operations by the police special teams comprising FSARS, PMF, Counter Terrorism, Special Anti-cults units in conjunction with other sister agencies and the Vigilante Group in the state.
He said that the two victims, Reverend Fathers Nwachukwu and Apeh are now in stable condition and have since reunited with their families and congregation.
While reassuring the people of the state of their safety during this festive season, Umar said: “It is worthy to note that safety of the victims is the ultimate priority of the Police in this situation. Consequently, effort is being intensified to apprehend perpetrators of this heinous crime in order to bring them to justice.”
He read a riot act to other criminal elements, “Anambra is not a place to operate as they will surely meet their waterloo and be dealt with decisively in accordance with the law.”