Again, Gunmen Abduct Four Catholic Priests in Delta

  • Kogi speaker’s brother, wife, others kidnapped

George Okoh in Makurdi and Yekini Jimoh in Lokoja

Four Catholic priests were reportedly kidnapped wednesday by unknown gunmen who ambushed them between Agbor and Umutu in Delta State.

This is coming as 18 persons, including the brother of the Kogi State Speaker, Hon. Matthew Kolawole, and his wife have been kidnapped along Oshokoshoko-Obajana-Kabba road by some suspected kidnappers.

A colleague of the abducted priests in the Catholic Diocese of Issele-Uku informed journalists that the priests were on their way to Uheille in Ekpoma, Edo State, for an alumni meeting when the hoodlums abducted them.

A Catholic priest in the area, who would not want his name published, gave the names of the victims as Fathers Victor Adigboluja, Anthony Otegbola, Joseph Idiaye and Obadjere Emmanuel.

While soliciting that prayers should be intensified for God to continue to protect the clergy from every seen and unseen evil, he said the suspected kidnappers were yet to make contact with the church.

He nevertheless noted that the Catholic Church as a policy does not encourage payment of ransom to free kidnapped victims.

The priest further expressed worries that clergy has become endangered specie as innocent and harmless priests and nuns have become ready targets for criminals.

The Police Public Relations Officer of the Delta State Police Command, Mr. Andrew Aniamaka (DSP), who confirmed the reported kidnap in Asaba yesterday, could not give further details.

The police command spokesman, however, said it was not yet clear whether the actual kidnapping took place in Delta State or at Urhonigbe in neighbouring Edo State, noting that the command was poised to unravel the circumstances of the growing incidence of kidnapping in the state with a view to bring the perpetrators to book.

Several catholic priests and reverend sisters have been kidnapped in recent time in different parts of the state with the criminals demand huge sum of money as ransom.

Meanwhile, Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State has condemned the kidnap of the four Catholic priests by suspected armed herdsmen.

The governor in a statement signed by his Press Secretary, Mr. Terver Akase, described the abduction of the Reverend Fathers as barbaric, dehumanising and shameful.

He wonders why armed herdsmen have chosen to make harmless clergymen targets of attacks, stressing that the motive of the perpetrators is clearly beyond mere grazing of cattle.

Ortom said the people of Benue State are still mourning the killing of two Catholic Priests and 17 worshippers by herdsmen in Mbalom, Gwer East Local Government Area of the state, earlier this year.

He therefore urged security agencies to act swiftly and ensure the release of the kidnapped priests in Delta State.

In a related development, 18 persons, including the brother of the Kogi State Speaker, Hon. Matthew Kolawole, and his wife have been kidnapped along Oshokoshoko-Obajana-Kabba road by some suspected kidnappers.

THISDAY reliably gathered yesterday that the victims were seized in different operations in the course of the day.

Mr. Tunji Solomon, who said he narrowly escaped from the kidnappers disclosed to our correspondent that some couples who were kidnapped were freed after paying N400,000 to the kidnappers.

The source also said a Pastor of the Redeemed Christian Church of God who was picked up on Monday paid N200,000 while another female victim paid N200,000 to buy her freedom.

Most of the kidnaps took place at the diversion after Oshokoshoko and other yet to be completed portions of the 35 kilometer road.

Meanwhile, the Speaker of Kogi State House of Assembly, has confirmed the kidnap of his brother, wife and two others on Kabba-Oshokoshoko road in the state.

Kolawole, who disclosed this during the house plenary sitting, said the yet-to-be-identified hoodlums appeared in Army and Police uniforms and later demanded ransom.

The speaker, while drawing the attention of the state government and security agencies to the rampant kidnapping which has resurfaced in the state noted that the incident happened on Monday.

Kolawole, who brought this to the fore in a motion of urgent public importance which was read by Oluwatoyin Lawal (PDP Yagba West), called on security agencies to quickly swing into action in rescuing the victims from their abductors.

He urged the state government to further equip the police and other security agencies with more high technology gadgets that will help towards stemming down crimes and criminalities in Kogi State.

Members in their contributions said the security agencies especially the police should up its game in ensuring the security of lives and properties in the state.

The house also urged the commissioner of police to deploy more policemen to flashpoints areas in the state.

However when THISDAY contacted the Police Public Relation officer of the Kogi State Police Command, Mr. William Ayah, he confirmed the incident but said only three persons were kidnapped and that they are doing everything possible to arrest the situation.

He further disclosed that the kidnappers made some attempt three times on Tuesday to carry out their operations but were repelled by the Police Anti Robbery Squad.