Kidnappers demand N1 billion ransom
Edo, Delta and Kaduna top list of most dangerous states for pastors
In the last two years not less than 51 pastors and priests of various denominations and churches were kidnapped in Nigeria. Also, ransom figures put at about N1 billion was demanded from them and their loved ones. This figure is based on a tally of kidnap cases reported in Nigerian newspapers in the last two years.
This tally is by no means comprehensive because there are many unreported cases of kidnap of pastors, priests, reverend sisters and ordinary Nigerians in various parts of the country.
The figures revealed that 17 Catholic Reverend Fathers and eight Reverend Sisters fell victim of kidnappers over the last two years. Some of Fathers who were victims include Rev.Fr.John Adeyi (Vicar General Catholic Archdiocese of Otukpo), Rev.Fr Paul Irikefe, Rev. Fr. Jude Oyebadi, Rev.Fr.Joseph Oghenekevwe, Rev. Fr. Felix Akpan, and Rev. Fr Charles Nwachukwu.
Others included Rev. Fr. Timothy Nwanja, Rev.Fr. Cyril Essien, Rev. Fr Edwin Omorogbe, Reverend Father Andrew Anah, Reverend Father Paulinus Udewangu, and Rev. Fr. Leo Michael, among over two dozen other pastors of Pentecostal and orthodox churches.
For those who were set free by their assailants, it was not clear how much ransom was paid. However, the kidnappers initially made demands of between N5 million and N100 million from pastors and priests they kidnapped. A tally of the demands totalled the sum of N1 billion. Not all this sum was paid to kidnappers.
From the statistics, Edo tops the table with nine pastors and reverend sisters kidnap, while Kaduna and Delta States came second with 6 kidnaps each. These three states remain the danger zones for priests and pastors. In each of these states pastors and priests were kidnapped much more frequently than in other parts of the country in the last two years. This is followed by Rivers and Kogi States where five and four priests were kidnapped respectively.
Perhaps, the Eucharistic Heart of Jesus Convent in Iguonakhi in Ovia South-West Local Government Area of Edo State suffered a serious trauma for several months. There, three reverend sisters were kidnapped from the religious community. Their names were given as Aloysius Ajayi, Francis Udi and Roselyn Isiocha. Along with these reverend sisters, three more trainees were kidnapped: Vivian, Mariam and Anna. They were aspiring to become reverend sisters.
A spokesman of the community who spoke to journalists said, “They (kidnappers) demanded N50m and, subsequently, they reduced it to N20m. As a matter of fact, the EHJ has been praying and I know very well that the Catholic Archdiocese of Benin and security personnel have been trying to see what they can do. But it all boils down to the kind of issues we have in this country. If it were to be in saner climes, one would have been able to, at least, pinpoint the location (of the kidnappers).”
The religious women were held from November 2017 until January 8, 2018 before they were release. The Convent claimed that no ransom was paid before they were released.
In November 2017, the Inspector General of Police Ibrahim Idris revealed that some 3,000 kidnappers had been arrested and were being held in police detention. According to him…”we have almost over 3000 suspects in the various police stations all over the country and we are taking them to court. Recently, I set up a task force to sort of streamline or scrutinise these cases so that we have speedy trial of some of these suspects.”
The kidnap of Christian religious leaders in Nigeria demonstrates the desperation of criminals in all the geopolitical zones of country to extort money from men who serve God. The fact that they have continued to kidnap people in spite of their arrests by security agencies prove that government needs to do more to contain the criminals.