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HomeSecurity/CrimeMethodist Church admits paying N100m to secure release of abducted Prelate, others...

Methodist Church admits paying N100m to secure release of abducted Prelate, others – From Gloria Uchenna

Prelate, Dr. Uche: No intervention by government, security agencies

The Methodist Church in Nigeria, has said it paid the sum of one hundred million  naira as ransom before its Prelate, Dr. Samuel Kanu Uche, and two other priests who were abducted on Sunday by Fulani herdsmen regained their freedom.

SummitNews recalls that the Prelate, the Bishop of Owerri, Rt. Rev. Dennis Mark, and the Prelate’s Chaplain, were kidnapped on Sunday in Umunneochi Local Government Area of Abia State.

They were abducted while they were on their way from a programme in the council area.  

The Prelate confirmed the Church paid one hundred million naira to their abductors before their release while recounting his experience when he arrived at the Hoare’s Memorial Methodist Church, Yaba Lagos, on Tuesday.

Narrating his experience in a Press conference held at Methodist church  Yaba, Lagos state, the clergyman said their abductors were fulanis alleging that some military personnel were aiding the kidnappers in their activities.

Hear him: “These people came out from the bush;they divided themselves into 3 places; some people fired at us and there was another group in front to make sure that we didn’t run away; they fired shots at our vehicle and eventually, they abducted 3 of us.

“The communication man of the church was able to escape, the driver was able to escape; the abducted me, the bishop of Owerri and my chaplain and they took us to the bush and were torturing us. It was in the process of that torture that I hit my right eye on a tree. Even when blood was flowing and I was soaking my eyes with a handkerchief, they didn’t feel like anything happened.

“All they said was that we should follow them; that they were not actually against Nigerian citizens but against the government, that the government is a bad government.

“They are Fulani boys; all the 8 are fulanis; they said the day they will see the president or any of his representatives they will chew him raw; that he is their brother but he has disappointed them and has disappointed Nigeria.

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” I said even though am part of government, am a church man am not a government official; they said okay, that is what have saved you, we would have killed you out-rightly without asking for any ransom but now that you are a church man, lets go inside the bush.

“I trekked up-to 15 kilometers but I knew that we were rigmaroling, going up going down and eventually at 11pm they said okay now we can negotiate; each of us will pay N50million and we are going to pay N150million. I thought it was a joke; I said we were going to pay 10million and they said what? Don’t say that; they lifted up their knife to cut me,I said please hold on.”

According to the clergy, the leader of the group is about 35 years while the others are about 18.

He said they had taken his rings, chain, took the money they had on them and insisted on 150 million ransom.

The clergy said the abductors came down to 100million ransom, warning that if they negotiate, they would be killed.

“I said okay. We will pay you N100 million. After some time, they said where is the money and I said this is Sunday night how can we get money this night and you know that there is this sit at home in igbo land. We cant afford the money now be patient till morning, we will make contacts.

He said they lost patient, laid bishop Dennis Mark down, raised a knife to cut him, while another pointed a gun at him (prelate) to show that they were serious,

“I told them we will raise the money for you. But the irony of it, where they were situated, the soldiers all of Fulani extraction, Nigerian soldiers, they were there at Lomara junction and this boys were going  behind them. Meanwhile they kept their cows somewhere, numbering about 200.

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He said some people were taking care of the cows while the abductors were parading them around the bush until they settled at a place,

“They said when are you bring the money? I said by 12 noon, I will call the people i’ve contacted whether the money had been raised and I called them, they said that they are gathering the money and they heard it because they said I will use my phone to talk, they cant use their phone, they don’t want to be tracked

“Their leader was born in igbo land but his parents have died. He said he was born around Umuahia Amuzukwu and his father was a cow dealer, the boy understood igbo”

He said the leader threatened to kill them if they informed security operatives when they had raised N100million.

The leader asked them to buy 5 ghana must go bags and put N20million in each bag. They left to pick the ransom while four others waited on them with guns.

“Around 5;30pm, the youngest boy who I think is a younger brother to their commander  said oga congratulations you are free you can go now. We have got our money, you can go. Let me show you the road.

“They took us to old road, where they wrote welcome to Imo’ and ‘goodbye from Abia”.

“They told us that after buying enough weapons, they are going to bring all those people that were driven away from zamfara, katsina, sambisa forest that they are all coming to locate themselves in igbo land and deal with us.

“He said do you know Ibadan expressway? We are in all the bush there , we are also in the south south, we are waiting for the slightest signal  we will finish you people and take over this land. They claimed that Nigeria belong to Fulani.

The priest maintained that military personnel’s of Fulani extraction were aiding the kidnappers who disguise as herders in the daytime but are kidnappers at night.

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He called on the government to take a decisive action ‘other wise what is happening in the north will be a child’s play”

On how they picked up the ransom, he said the terrorists came to the pick up spot with a truck without a number plate.

He stated that all efforts made to ensure that he is released was the effort of the Methodist church and her members and not security personnel nor government.

The Prelate’s wife, Florence, while thanking God for the safe return of the cleric, implored the Federal Government to ensure the security of lives and property.

The Chairman, Christian Association of Nigeria, Lagos chapter, Bishop Stephen Adegbite, said it was the duty of the government to protect lives and property.

He said, “The Buhari government has a lot to do. This is a problem of leadership. The ransom paid was from the church and government does not have a hand in it. We don’t have oil wells and anyone who attacks the church, taking money is taking blood money.”

The governor of Abia State, Dr Okezie Ikpeazu, had in a press release signed by his chief press secretary, Onyebuchi Ememenka gave the impression that no ransom was paid before the clerics were freed on Monday.

Ikpeazu attributed the release of “the eminent men of God within 24 hours of their abduction to the grace of God, the fervent prayers of the Christian Community and the well coordinated response from security agencies in Abia State”.

But while the Prelate acknowledged the hands of God in protecting them and safeguarding their lives as they passed through torture in the hands of the evil men, he said N100 million was paid for their freedom. 

He insisted that neither the security agencies nor government played any role in securing their release

 He said neither the federal government nor the Abia state government or even security operatives intervened to secure their release.

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