By Evelyn Usman
Security has been beefed up in Catholic churches in Lagos and the eastern part of the country, following the abduction of priests by gunmen suspected to be kidnappers.
In one week, attempts had been made on two Catholic priests by kidnappers.
The first was that on Rev. Fr. Cyriacus Onunkwo of Umuotuasi Village, Osina in Ideato North Local Government Area of Imo State , last week.
He did not survive the attempt unlike his counterpart at St Thomas Catholic Church, Onilekere area of Lagos, Rev Fr Daniel Nwankwo, who is receiving treatment in hospital.
Four armed men operating in a Toyota Avalon car, intercepted the former who was driving in his grey coloured Toyota Corrolla car with plate number IMO KED 290 AA, at Banana Junction, Orlu.
Thereafter, they dragged the priest, who had travelled to his hometown to make arrangement for the burial of his late father, out from his vehicle and put him in their car boot before zooming off.
His lifeless body was discovered the next day by a team of policemen attached to Omuma Division.
Six persons, among them, a former police corporal have been arrested in connection with the priest’s abduction and murder.
The second attack occurred at about 6.30am during a mass at St Thomas Catholic Church, Onilekere, Cement Bus-Stop, Lagos, on Thursday, after some hoodlums who posed as worshippers partook in the prayer session.
At the end of the mass, they requested to have a dialogue with the head of the parish, Rev Father Daniel Nwankwo, who unsuspectingly granted them audience outside the church auditorium. But to his amazement, one of the gunmen brought out a pistol and shot him at close range.
Spokesman for the Lagos State Police Command, Olarinde Famous-Cole, said that the priest was in stable condition.
Sunday Vanguard investig-ation revealed that some of the Catholic churches have approached Divisional Police Stations within their jurisdictions to deploy policemen to their parishes today.
It was also gathered that security measures such as scrutinizing persons who want to see reverend fathers for any dialogue.
A worshipper at Saint Charles Catholic Church, Olodi, Apapa area of Lagos, Magnus Ebube, who spoke with Sunday Vanguard said: “ We are likely to start searching worshippers before they enter the parish as from tomorrow (today). A meeting was held where we were told to start that”.