. . . Demand N10m Ransom to Release Corpse
By Odogwu Emeka Odogwu
A priest from the Diocese of Sokoto and formerly of Nnewi Diocese, Anambra, has been murdered by kidnappers who are also continuing to hold his family kidnapped with him.
According to the reports, Anthony Idris Jata’u was abducted on Thursday night in Zamfara by kidnappers who also took his wife, three children and two sisters-in-law. His body was found by the side of the road on Saturday.
There has been no official confirmation of the reports; but various blogs and social media channels have reported the kidnapping – several of them showing a photo of the body. An anonymous source from the Diocese of Sokoto said that the kidnappers have demanded a ransom of ₦10 million Naira for the release of his family.
‘Everybody is sad at the moment and afraid for the lives of his family members still in the custody of the bandits,’ our source said, adding that the Church did not have such money but hoping to raise a substantial sum to secure the release of the victims.
‘The abductors separated the kids into different locations as it was glaring when they called and asked them to speak with the person whose mobile telephone the victims gave them.
‘There is panic among worshippers as time is ticking and no one knows what their next line of action will be. Security agencies are aware of the case but there is nothing yet.’
The reports said that Jata’u, from South ern Kaduna, had studied at the Crowther Graduate Theological Seminary in Abeokuta, in Ogun State, prior to ordination. He was on his way to a new posting in Katsina State when gunmen opened fire on the car in Zamfara State, forcing it to skid off the road.
The reports also said that Jata’u had survived a previous kidnapping, in September 2006, while serving at St Andrew’s Church in the Diocese of Nnewi.
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, said he was deeply distressed and saddened by the news.
‘My prayers and those of the whole community at Lambeth Palace are with the family of the Reverend Anthony Idris Jata’u, who grieve even as they continue to be held in captivity and great danger,’ he said, praying God to grant them freedom and justice.
‘We pray too for the church led by the Reverend Jata’u, for all those suffering persecution for their faith, and for the whole nation of Nigeria, that Jesus Christ would light the path away from violence and towards peace,’ Welby said.
Kidnapping is a regular occurrence in Nigeria. In December, the Bishop of Ahoada, Clement Ekpeye, was kidnapped when abductors forced their way into his home in Rivers State. He was released after five days in captivity.