Following the demand of N15 million ransom by the abductors of Rev. Father Christopher Ogaga, a Catholic Priest in Aragba, Oviri-Okpe, Okpe Local Government, Delta State, the Catholic bishop of Awka Diocese, His Lordship Most Rev. Paulinus Ezeokafor, says it will be foolhardy and unimaginable for the Universal Church to pay for the release of any abducted priest, reports Abuchi Onwumelu.
The outspoken prelate who stated this at St. Patrick’s Catholic Cathedral, Awka, emphatically said the reason the Mother Church did not pay ransom to kidnappers was because the Church relied solely on people’s benevolence and goodwill for her survival.
The Catholic prelate who wondered why anyone in their right senses would ever think of kidnapping a priest of God, let alone, requesting ransom from the Church, said Catholic priests owned nothing and therefore had nothing to give to anybody.
‘Catholic priests live on parishioners’ benevolence. Whatever they receive as gifts are what they live with. No additional income anywhere. They have given up everything – children, accumulation of wealth, owning and acquisition of property. They sacrificed their earthly pleasures just to serve God and humanity. They need prayers, help, encouragement and not this type of treatment.
‘These people are working for God and humanity. They are not being paid. They rely solely on people’s assistance, goodwill and kind gestures for their survival. Why go after those working out your salvation? I cannot understand it,’ Bishop Ezeokafor said.
He therefore called for the immediate release of the priest, even as he prayed for the abductors of the priest to repent from their evil ways and embrace God in His fullness.
‘The priest should be released forthwith. The Church has no money to give to anybody. There is nothing the Church will do in this situation. Where would they get the money from if I may ask? These priests are going around preaching and calling for repentance. Why go after them?’ Bishop Ezeokafor queried.
Fides reports that the Commissioner of Police in Delta Delta, Mr Muhammad Mustafa, confirmed the priest’s kidnap to newsmen last Monday in Warri, saying the operatives of the command had begun a search to ensure the safe release of the victim.
Meanwhile, a source said that Ogaga was allegedly kidnapped by gunmen around Arava-Oviri-Orere-Okpe Road on his way to Warri on Saturday, September 1.
The source, who pleaded anonymity, said the victim, who is also the Principal of St. Peter Clavers College, Aghalokpe, left Aghalopke, Sapele at about 9:00p.m.
The source said the kidnapped priest was going for the Sunday morning mass at the Mother of Redeemer Catholic Church, Airport Junction, Effurun, Uvwie Local Government Area of Delta.
‘Ogaga was driving alone on his way to Warri when he was kidnapped. He left the house and was heading to Warri through Arava-Oviri-Orere-Okpe Road; that is the route he usually takes to Warri.
‘He usually travels to Warri alone every Sunday. We were supposed to go with him that Saturday,’ the source said, disclosing that the kidnappers were demanding for a ransom of N15 million to secure the release of the cleric.