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CAN fumes as gunmen abduct over 22 clerics in one year

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fewer than 22 clerics have been abducted by gunmen between June 2021 and June 2022 in Nigeria, investigation by has revealed.

Recently, the Prelate of the Methodist Church of Nigeria, Samuel Kanu, was kidnapped.

Kanu was abducted along the Enugu-Port Harcourt Expressway, Abia State, with the Methodist Bishop of Owerri, Rt. Rev. Dennis Mark, and the Prelate’s Chaplain.

The Prelate told journalists that the church paid N100m to secure his freedom.

This was followed by the abduction of the Anglican Bishop of Jebba Diocese, Kwara State, Rt. Rev. Oluwaseun Aderogba.

He was kidnapped by gunmen alongside his wife, and driver, last Sunday, on the Oyo-Ogbomoso Expressway, Oyo State.

The kidnappers demanded a ransom of N70m.

Catholic priests, the Chairman of the Christian Association of Nigeria in Jos East, Rev. James Kantoma, and Fr. Christopher Onotu of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church, Kogi, were abducted between June 6 and June 13, 2022.

Two priests from Sokoto Catholic Diocese, Rev Frs Stephen Ojapa, Oliver Okpara, and two boys were kidnapped by gunmen at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church, Gidan Maikambo, Katsina State on May 25.

In Ondo, Venerable Olu Obanla of the Anglican Church and his son were kidnapped along the Ifon-Okeluse Road, on Saturday, May 22.

The spokesperson for the state police command, SP Funmilayo Odunlami, said they were released by the kidnappers in Edo State three days after their abduction.

In Akwa Ibom, a Catholic priest, Rev Fr Alphonsus Uboh, of the St. Pius X Parish at IkotAbasiAkpan village, in Mkpat Enin Local Government Area was abducted on May 8, 2022.

Also, the Founder of Solid Rock Kingdom Church, Apostle John Okoriko, was abducted in the same LGA in April 2022. It was learnt that Okoriko regained his freedom from the abductors after the payment of N10m.

 In Kaduna, catholic priests, Rev. Fr Joseph Bako of St John’s Church, Kudenda, and Rev Fr Felix Zakari Fidson, of the Diocese of Zaria, were abducted between March 8 and March 24, 2022.

In Niger, Rev Fr Leo Ozigi of St Mary’s Church, Sarkin Pawa Village in Munya LGA of Niger State, was kidnapped along with others on March 27.  Ozigi regained his freedom after the gangsters were paid an undisclosed sum.

In Maiduguri, Rev Fr Elijah Wada of the Diocese of Maiduguri was abducted by Boko Haram terrorists along Damboa Maiduguri Road on Wednesday, June 30, 2021. This was confirmed by the Diocesan Secretary, Fr. John Bakeni.

Gunmen also invaded the Christ the King Major Seminary, Kaduna, on October 9, 2021, kidnapping five seminarians. All were eventually freed.

A statement by the Chancellor of the Catholic Diocese of Kafanchan, Emmanuel Okolo confirmed their release. Details on ransom paid were not disclosed.

In addition, a Catholic priest, Rev Fr Godfrey Chimezie of St Theresa’s Parish, Umuahia, was kidnapped along the Enyiukwu Road, Abia State, on October 13. The PUNCH reported that the Catholic Bishop of Umuahia, Lucius Ugorji, announced the release of the clergyman.

In Ogun, two Islamic clerics, Hussein AbdulJelil, and his friend, Ilyas Jamiu, were kidnapped by a gang of kidnappers in Ayetoro, on December 18.

Another Muslim cleric was abducted alongside 11 other people, in two separate attacks in the Sabon Birni area of Sokoto State on December 13.

Speaking to CAN President’s aide, Bayo Oladeji, said the President, Major-General Mohammed Buhari (retd.), failed to provide security for lives and property across the country.

He stressed that the FG has also refused to overhaul the security architecture of the intelligence community.

 “Any government that fails to protect its citizens has given the people a free hand to protect themselves, and there is no law against such,” Oladeji added.

However, the Chief Missioner of NASFAT, Sheikh Abdul-Azeez Onike, said, “Government is trying, but we want them to put in more effort to ensure the security of lives and properties because that is their primary role.”

Also, a Professor of Sociology, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, Kaduna State, Prof Emmanuel Gyong, said, “The most important thing is the political will to use the military to do what needs to be done. The government arrested the likes of Nnamdi Kanu, Evans, and some IPOB members, so what is the difference?”

Similarly, the President of the National Association of Criminologists and Security Practitioners of Nigeria, Williams Ekponson, said, “Government can solve insecurity in the country through job creation. Families also need to be educated on how to safeguard their lives, so that they don’t fall prey to any security threats.”

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