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Kidnapped Christians remain prisoners despite ransom payment

Reverend Elkanah Ayuba and Reverend Simon Ezra, both of the United Methodist Church, were kidnapped last month. The rest of the prisoners were later released. However, the two pastors have not been set free, even though their congregations have paid the ransom of 11 million naira (the equivalent of USA $12,264).

Reverend Ayuba is the district superintendent of the United Methodist Church. He appeared to have been held at gunpoint in a video released by the captors; suggesting that the kidnappers were Muslim Fulani herdsmen who had revolted because they had been marginalized by the Nigerian government.

Reverend Micah Dopa, president of the Southern Conference of the United Methodist Church, stated: “As a Body of Christ, we mobilized and paid 11 million naira for our members to be released, but the terrorists decided to release only the Muslim victims in their custody. Going by the video clip circulating in the media and the action of the terrorists, it is clear to say that the terrorists’ activities are a plot to erase Christians in the area. We wish to in strong terms condemn the ungodly, barbaric, heartless, evil and senseless act of banditry and terrorism in the Yorro community.”

Another church member, Dimas Ishaya, along with others was also abducted on the 23rd of December 2023. Fidelis Daniel was kidnapped from his home along with others from the Gongong Malik market in Gongon village, including the pastor of Kasakuri and other churchgoers on the 26th of December 2023.

According to a local resident, Charles Tolmava, the abductors were en route with the captives: “We learned that Rev. Elkanah Ayuba has disclosed that the terrorists keep moving them toward the border of Nigeria with the Cameroon Republic. Their health keeps deteriorating with no food or water. The demands of the bandits are high, as they are demanding millions of naira. The church is finding it difficult to meet the demand of the terrorists.”

The kidnappers recorded a video three days after the abduction. In the footage viewers can see Reverend Ayuba blindfolded, being forced by armed captors staying behind him to say that they would be killed unless Taraba state leaders, “especially Muslim and Christian leaders under the Muslim Council and the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), meet and draw the attention of the Nigerian government to our plight. There’s the need for them to dialogue with our captors so as to get us released from captivity. There’s the need for the government to communicate with our captors and find a lasting solution to this menace. We believe that unless the government takes steps towards finding a solution to this problem for peace to reign, unless this is done in the next few days, we’ll be killed.”

Reverend Isaiah Magaji Jirapye, chairman of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Taraba State Chapter, released a statement, saying that “Christians in Taraba state have continued to suffer from the nefarious and unwholesome activities of Muslim Fulani bandits, kidnappers and terrorists. The recent abduction of some Christians in Yorro Local Government Area of Taraba state by Muslim Fulani bandits, which their video surfaced on the social media, calls for serious concern from all and sundry. Despite the fact that the church paid ransom for the release of their pastors and members, the terrorists refused to release them. But instead released other Muslim abductees in their place. There’s the need for concentrated efforts on the part of the Nigerian government, the Taraba state government, amongst other stakeholders, to win the fight against terrorism, banditry and kidnapping.”



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