An area known as Imeohia Mmaku in Awgu LGA of Enugu State recently came under the siege of robbers cum kidnappers, who invaded the community to perpetrate their heinous crime. On the fateful day, a priest was said to have led some notorious gang of robbers/kidnappers in the deadly operation.
While the operation lasted, the gang sealed off entrances and exits to the community. Clad in a white cassock, Rev. Fr. James Ani, in company with about eight other people held the community by the jugular and laid siege on their prey for hours.
It was gathered that they combed the community to see if they could find a prime target to kidnap on which they could feed. As the siege was going on, a team of anti-robbery patrol team usually on routine checks on communities in the state was passing by and accosted the gang.
On seeing the police team, Fr. Ani reportedly commanded his ‘boys’ to launch offensive. Wielding dangerous weapons, the gang reportedly engaged the police team in fierce gun duel which further sent habitants of the community and travellers scampering for safety.
During the clash, Fr. Ani and his gang reportedly got hold of one Inspector Cosmas Nzeribe and a couple of his colleagues, and almost sniffed life out of them. They however bowed to the superior firepower of the law enforcement agents leading to their arrest. Before they were arrested, the hoodlums damaged the two vehicles used by the police.
In the end, Fr. Ani and three others; Ugwu Marcel, Obasi Felix and Norbert Eke were arrested and taken to custody. About five other members of the gang escaped from the scene of the attack.
In a chat with reporters, an eye witness, who identified himself as Okey, said: “I ply this road very often and I can tell you that most travellers had had harrowing experiences to share about this place. It is such a bad spot and when the robbers were arrested and we saw a supposed man of God among them, not many of us were surprised because we had experienced that before in this area. Criminals would put on cloths meant for the clergymen to rob people. Thank God, this one was caught.”
At the time of his arrest, Fr. Ani claimed that he is not a robber but a priest. However, upon interrogation, he confessed to his crime, saying he was pushed into the crime due to lull in his business.
Spokesman of Enugu Police Command, Ebere Amaraizu confirmed the arrest. He said “The Commissioner of Police has said it many times that there is no hiding place for criminals again in Enugu. This statement he is matching with actions which are evident in the arrest of the four suspects. Imagine someone supposed to be a man of God, being the ring leader in such a crime!”