KIDNAPPING FOR EXTORTION, ANOTHER PLAGUE IN NIGERIA

Father Felix Zakari Fidson, kidnapped on 24 March 24 and released on 3 May.

 

Don Leo Raphael Ozigi, kidnapped on Sunday 27 March and released on 8 April.

 

Father Joseph Akete Bako, kidnapped on the night of 8 March in an assault to the parish house. Killed by his captors between 18 and 20 April.

 

«It is with a heavy heart, but with total submission to the will of God, that we announce the death of Rev. Fr. Joseph Aketeh Bako, which took place in the hands of his abductors between 18th and 20th of April 2022». Thus the Chancellor of the Archdiocese of Kaduna, Fr Christian Okewu Emmanuel, announced the death of the parish priest of the Catholic church of St. John, in Kudenda, in the state of Kaduna.
Fr Bako, 48, was kidnapped by armed men who attacked the rectory at 1.30 am on the night of 8 March. His brother had also been kidnapped with him. «His brother was killed in his presence and as a result of this, his condition (he had been ill for some time) worsened and he died».
“We haven’t recovered the body, but we have confirmation of the death. The people who were kidnapped with him saw him die».
In the weeks following the kidnapping, rumors had spread of tortures inflicted to Fr. Bako by the kidnappers.

 

And we learn from the Fides agency of the latest kidnapping. Fr Alphonsus Uboh, pastor of the church of San Pio X, in the state of Akwa Ibom, in southern Nigeria, was kidnapped on Sunday 8 May while he was in his parish. Witnesses reported that gunmen riding motorcycles stormed parish premises after Mother’s Day and a fundraising event celebrations.
On the afternoon of 9 May, the priest managed to contact the president of the parish council saying that he was being held in a forest of which he did not know the location and that his kidnappers were demanding a ransom of 100 million Nigerian naira ($ 240,000) for his own release.

 

A worrying phenomenon that of kidnappings for extortion, which led the Nigerian Senate to approve a bill, still to be discussed in the House of Representatives before being approved and signed by the Head of State, who punishes with imprisonment of at least 15 years who pays a ransom to free a kidnapped person and with the death penalty the kidnapper, in the event of the death of the victims.

 

For years, the Nigerian bishops have prohibited the payment of ransoms in the event of the kidnapping of members of ecclesiastical and religious staff, but the bill has caused strong controversy in the country, behind it lies the inability of the institutions to guarantee the safety of citizens.

 

Emmanuele Di Leo: «Witnessing, albeit beyond a screen, the carnage that often inflicts this country is devastating. However, I am even more saddened when the ones dying are peacemakers such as international cooperators or priests, men who know and accept the risk of becoming the target of a ferocity that only hate or extreme poverty can explain.
The true peacemakers accept this risk so that everything that is taken for granted in our home, such as peace, education or health, becomes granted also in those territories».

 

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