On Saturday, the 1st of September, the vicar of three parishes in the diocese of Warri (in the State of Delta) was kidnapped for ransom by unknown persons. He was kidnapped while he was going to Warri, where he was to have celebrated Mass the next day.
According to the local press, his kidnappers asked for a ransom of 15 million nairas (35,749 euros). However, according to information issued by the Diocese, the priest, Fr. Christopher Ogag, was freed without the ransom money being paid on the 5th of September.
The frequent abduction of priests and religious leaders
In Nigeria, priests and religious leaders are favourite targets of the kidnappers. Since 2015, this phenomena has become common, mainly in the Southern part of the country, where the majority are Christian.
In November of 2017, three nuns and three aspirants to the Congregation of the Sisters of the Community of the Heart of Christ were kidnapped in the State of Benin-city, in South-Nigeria. They were released in January of 2018.
In the same year, three priests were kidnapped and later set free. Fr Samuel Okwuidegbe, a Jesuit clergyman was abducted in April and released some days later. The other two priests that were taken were found a short time after their disappearance.
Some other hostages were less fortunate. At the beginning of September in 2017, a priest of the diocese of Imo, Fr. Cyriacus Onunkwo was kidnapped and later assassinated. On the 23rd of October, in the State of Ondo (South), Fr. David Ayeola was killed by his abductors, who had demanded a ransom of 100 million nairas (237 000 euros) for his life.
The bishops ask for the help of the government
The Catholic Church has frequently asked for the intervention of the government to protect the clergymen in the Southern part of Nigeria.
In January the Nigerian bishops asked the kidnappers to “change their heart” and “look for another job to earn a living.” At the same time, they criticised the work of the government because the authorities “do nothing against the kidnappers who torture their hostages for weeks, or even for months”.
Source: La Croix