By George Onah
A Lebanese Catholic Priest, Rev. Fr. George Keiruz, has been kidnapped at Obehie Junction, Asa, Abia State, along Aba-Port Harcourt expressway by 10 gunmen who drove in a jeep. The bandits were said to have sped out of their hideout, crossed the priest’s car and forced it to an abrupt halt.
Vanguard gathered that the priest who was clad in his cassock (priests’ wears) and on a missionary evangelism was hurriedly dragged out of his car and hurled into the abductors jeep, following which they sped off to an unknown destination.
It was learnt that “the priest is an asthmatic patient who needs his drugs always to recoup his health condition and has been going round the region evangelising on peace, love, unity and progress in Nigeria”.
A source who called Vanguard on phone in Port Harcourt but did not want his name in print said: “The relations of the priest have been devastated back home since they learnt about the kidnap of their brother last week”, explaining that “the incident is a serious dent on the image of the country.
“We are requesting the police and government to step up investigation to locate where the priest has been kept and released. The country cannot be celebrating its 50th independence anniversary and such an ugly incident is being recorded”, the source said.
Police PRO, Rita Inoma Abbey, was not available for comment as one officer in her office said she had gone out “on a special assignment” but confirmed that “we had something like that about a foreign priest that was kidnapped while coming to Port Harcourt”.
Vanguard also learnt that the man who was sent with the ransom to release the four female youth corps members was himself abducted by the kidnappers over the weekend. The female corpers were seized about two weeks ago at Omuma Local Government in Rivers State.
The kidnappers, it was learnt, have made another demand, insisting that the local government chairman of the area be removed and another one installed before the youth corps members could be set free.
A source told Vanguard, yesterday, that “a handsome amount of money” had been put together to secure the release of the abducted girls “as requested by the gunmen but we were taken aback when the man carrying the money was seized and a call came telling us of something new”.