By JIMITOTA ONOYUME
The ARCH BISHOP, Niger Delta North Diocese of the Anglican Communion, Most Reverend Ignatius Kattey, never saw it coming.
In his wildest imagination, he never thought he could be a target of kidnappers. After all, he is a man of God. His understanding perhaps before his abduction was that kidnappers and hoodlums would not want to have anything to do with a minister of the Lord so as not to incur the wrath of the Almighty.
His perception changed, penultimate Friday, minutes after he drove out of his Eleme, Port-Harcourt, Rivers State residence in company of his darling wife, Mrs Beatrice Kattey. Sources close to the arch bishop, who is also the Dean of the Anglican Communion in the country( next to the Primate), said he was expecting the Primate of the Church, Nicolas Oko, who was to fly into Port Harcourt the following morning, Saturday, on an Episcopal assignment. That Saturday was to be the state’s environmental sanitation exercise, and consequently restriction of movent between 7 to 10 a.m..
Apparently to be at the airport before the restriction of movement, Kattey left his home, about thirty minutes drive to the heart of Port Harcourt that Friday at about 10.30pm , with his wife. They had thought of spending the night in Port Harcourt so they could be at the airport very early to receive Primate Oko.
But about 15 minutes into the trip, unknown gun men overtook their vehicle around Aleto Eleme, ordering them to a halt. It only dawned on the arch bishop and his wife that they were face to face with kidnappers when the men started dishing out orders. “Eh, Reverend! Don’t panic, we are business men. We kidnap for ransom,” one of them may have told the bishop and his wife who must have been pleading the blood of Jesus for their rescue.
One of the gunmen reportedly took over the driver’s seat of the vehicle. It was not clear what happened but as they drove on with their victims, it reportedly struck them to free the wife of Kattey, some distance away.
At the time of this piece, the kidnappers were yet to establish contact with the family for ransom. Meanwhile, condemnations have continued to trail the abduction. On its part, the Anglican Communion said it would not pay ransom for the release of the archbishop. While condemning the kidnapping in Port Harcourt, the Councils of Clergy and the Knights of Niger Delta North Diocese said payment of ransom would amount to encouraging the act of kidnapping which they described as a sin.
They called for Kattey’s immediate and unconditional release. Venerable Richard Opara and Sir Charles Ogundu-Chukwu appealed to President Goodlluck Jonathan, the Inspector General of Police, Mr Mohammed Abubakar, and Governor Chibuike Amaechi to step up effort at securing life and property in Rivers State adding that they should secure the release of the arch bishop
“The news came to us as a shock and, as we speak, the bishop is still in the hands of the captors. We wonder the offence of the God’s servant and why Kattey would be abducted”, they said.
”We condemn it and we therefore ask for the unconditional release of the bishop. We call on the IGP, the governor of Rivers State and the President to expedite action on his unconditional release.”
The clergymen and knights were all decked in black, symbolizing that the Church was lamenting the abduction.
Rivers State Police Public Relations Officer, DSP Angela Agabe, said the police were making efforts to secure the archbishop’s release.
There have been prayers in all dioceses of the Anglican Communion across the country for Katty’s freedom.
The state government also called for the release of the hostage. Amaechi blamed the abduction on what he termed the deplorable security situation in the state which he traced to what he described as the failure of Rivers Police Commissioner, Mr. Joseph Mbu, to live up his responsibility of securing the state.
Arch bishop Kattey is not the first high profile cleric to be taken hostage in the state. Rev. Father Pius Kii of the Catholic Church was kidnapped on January 25, 2009 after delivering the homily at Christ the King Catholic Church, CKC, Mile One, Diobu, Port Harcourt.