Methodist Prelate, others released after church’s N100m appeal to pay ransom
• ‘Powerful forces’ behind the abduction of clerics, HURIWA alleges
The Prelate of Methodist Church Nigeria, Samuel Chukwuemeka Kanu Uche, and two others, who were abducted on Sunday in Umunneochi Local Council of Abia State, have regained freedom.
A terse message by a church official, confirming their release, yesterday, reads: “To God be the glory. His Eminence, Dr. Samuel Chukwuemeka Kanu Uche, his Chaplain, Very Rev. Abidemi Jeremiah Shittu, and the Bishop of Owerri, Rt. Rev. Dennis Mark, gained their freedom a few minutes ago. Thank you all for your prayers.”
Earlier yesterday, Secretary of Conference, Methodist Church Nigeria, Rt. Rev. Michael Akinwale, had appealed to the church’s faithful to raise N100 million, being ransom demanded by the abductors.
He disclosed the church’s bank details in a statement, which reads in part: “The devastating news of the abduction of our Prelate, the Bishop of Owerri, and the Prelate’s Chaplain has left everybody in shock. As we engage in prayer warfare, this serves to notify you that the abductors have demanded a ransom of N100 million.
“In view of the urgency and the dire need to arrest the situation for the safety of our Prelate and other abductees, it has become imperative to seek your urgent response to raise the N100 million ransom.
“The safety of the Prelate and other abductees must be of paramount concern to all, and your contributions spiritually and monetarily shall not go unrewarded.”
ALSO, while reacting to the abduction yesterday, the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) called on President Muhammadu Buhari to order security agencies to free them immediately.
In a statement in Abuja, Pastor Adebayo Oladeji, Special Assistant (Media and Communications) to CAN President, said: “If a great servant of God, of Uche’s calibre, could be kidnapped like a three-year-old baby on a major road, without any resistance from the police, it speaks volumes of what our security architecture has become.”
He noted: “Not fewer than 10 clerics have been kidnapped, this year alone, and none was rescued by security agencies. In two instances, their captors, unfortunately, killed the victims.
“This is no more a country one can be proud of. No reasonable government can continue to leave the citizens in a terrible state of insecurity as we are currently. This situation is not good for our nation at all.
“We, once again, call on President Buhari to do all within his powers to get these servants of God released very soon and unhurt.
“This administration must redeem its image of widespread insecurity by bringing sanity to this situation before leaving office.”
He added: “To those who are holding these servants of God, we appeal that they let go of them. We also call on Christians and other well-meaning Nigerians to join us in praying for their release immediately.”
HUMAN Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) also condemned the abduction of Christian clerics in the country, alleging powerful forces bent on causing anarchy were behind the atrocities.
HURIWA, in a statement by its National Coordinator, Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko, urged the security agents to put an end to the persecution of Christian clerics.
It said: “The menace of kidnapping has again shown the failure of Nigeria’s current security architecture. HURIWA expresses shock that incidents of kidnappings are increasing, and governors and the Federal Government lack the capacity to think through, alongside their legislative houses, to come out with the best legal and crime-fighting approach to tackle these problems.
“The kidnapping of clerics has been escalated and it seems there is a well-crafted agenda to destroy Christianity by some forces bent on establishing anarchy in Nigeria and the security forces seem to have collapsed under the heavyweight of crass incompetence, lack of professionalism and indiscipline and the rudderless political leadership structures in Nigeria.
“The ugly incidents have shown President Muhammadu Buhari’s incompetence and absent-mindedness towards the breakdown of law and order. His attitude compounded the situation because while Buhari is constantly flying around the world, his security chiefs that are grossly incompetent are simply left to watch armed non-state actors such as terrorists, kidnappers mass killers continue to hold Nigerians hostage.”