BY Kazie Uko (Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, Abia State).

Abia State Governor, Dr. Alex Otti, OFR, has advised parents to take care of their children, saying nothing they are doing is more important than this parental obligation.

Governor Otti’s admonition came as the world prepared to celebrate Father’s Day, Sunday, June 16, when he was presented with three handsome boys of the same parents, who had been kidnapped but were later rescued from their abductors.

Gideon, aged 8; Divine, 6; and Israel, 4; were abducted while returning home from school on May 10, 2024.

Receiving the children alongside their parents and other community leaders at his residence in, Umuehim, Nvosi, Isiala Ngwa South Local Government Area on Saturday, Governor Otti thanked God and all those who worked hard to ensure their release.

He expressed joy that the children have finally been reunited with their parents and used the opportunity to admonish parents to be more careful about the safety and security of their children.

“I will like to also admonish parents to be more careful because this was avoidable. First of all, you should not hand over your children to people you do not know, be they Keke or Okada riders. There is nothing you’re doing that is more important than looking after your children. That is my word to parents, grandparents and everybody who has something to do with one Abia child or another.

“It is very, very important that we take their security, comfort and safety very seriously. A lot of lessons have been learnt from this, and I believe we shouldn’t let this kind of thing repeat itself,” the Governor pleaded.

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He further implored security operatives who took part in the rescue operations to follow through and ensure that everyone involved in the abduction is prosecuted and brought to book to serve as deterrent to others.

The governor pledged that the government would support the rescued children in the best way that it deemed fit and recommended that communities go back to the positive culture of seeing all children as their own.

He reassured of his administration’s commitment to securing the State and developing the economy, pointing out that this cannot be possible without security.

“One of the promises that we made to our people was that we must secure the State because it is our intention to develop the state and grow our economy.

“So, when you see me working very hard, visiting security agencies and their heads, it is to sit down and be able to map out a security architecture that works for all of us,” the Governor stated.

He restated his earlier notice that Abia is not safe for criminals as government has put in place a robust security architecture to protect lives and property, adding that government is creating an economy where everyone with genuine business will participate.

“I had told criminals, I have sent them notice that this place cannot contain them and us; one must run away. Fortunately, I’m not the one that would run, because I have the mandate of the people, and I have the mandate of God. So, it’s the evil ones that would run away, and they’ve already started running,” the Governor said.

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Narrating how the children were rescued, the Mayor of Ikwuano, Comrade Osinachi Nwaka, said the rescue unfolded in three stages, pointing out that he personally led the first operation in Ekwulobia, Anambra State.

While describing the rescue as a remarkable triumph, Mayor Nwaka saluted the unwavering commitment of Governor Otti in restoring safety and security in Abia. He also thanked the various security agencies, including the State Homeland Security, for their efforts and working in synergy.

Also, the Special Adviser to the Governor on Security Matters, Commander MacDonald Uba (Rtd.) lauded the optimism of the Governor, which motivated the Mayor and others, who participated in the operation, describing the Governor as a father and a good shepherd.

Earlier while presenting the children, their parents and the community leaders to the Governor, the member representing Ikwuano State Constituency, Honourable Boniface Isienyi, said the rescue operation was not an easy task, adding that it took God’s grace to make it possible.

He disclosed that he would be proposing a bill in the coming days that would make it mandatory that anyone who wants to run a motherless babies home should be registered with the State Ministry of Women Affairs to legitimise their operations.

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