…Demand N2.5m ransom as Bishops dismiss payment
By Chimaobi Nwaiwu
Nnewi—The Catholic Diocese of Nnewi, yesterday alleged that suspected Fulani herdsmen armed with dangerous weapons including guns, attacked and kidnapped the Rector of Tansi Major Seminary, Rev. Fr. Dr. Emmanuel Dim, while two other priests Rev. Frs. Jude Chukwuneke and Jude Ezeokana who were in the same vehicle with him escaped with various degrees of gun shot wounds.
Addressing reporters at the Nnewi Catholic Diocese Media House, located in Assumption Cathedral Nnewi, Director of Communication of the Diocese, Rev. Fr. Hyginus Aghaulor, alleged that the herdsmen called, and demanded for a ransom of N2.5 million.
He said: “Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria, CBCN, has decided and directed that ransom should not be paid for the kidnap of any of its priests and anybody that is demanding for ransom for the release of any priest kidnapped is wasting time. “If anybody or group goes ahead to pay ransom for the release of any priest, the person or the group is on his own.”
In a statement issued after addressing reporters, titled “Fulani herdsmen kidnap Rector of Tansi Major Seminary, Onitsha, demands for ransom,” the Catholic Diocese of Nnewi said the incident happened on the September 26, 2016, around 7pm along Nkpologwu/Nimbo Road Enugu State.
According to the statement, “the three Catholic priests were returning from Nsukka to Onitsha and Nnewi, after a condolence visit to Rev. Fr. Uchenna Ezeh of Nsukka Diocese who lost his mother, before they were attacked and while Rev. Fr. Dim is still being held by the herdsmen- kidnappers who are demanding a ransom of N2.5 million, Rev. Fr. Ezeokana, who lectures in both Fr. Tansi Major Seminary Onitsha and Nnamdi Azikiwe University Awka, received treatment briefly at a hospital in Nsukka, but is now recuperating at Awka his home Diocese.
“Rev. Fr. Chukwuemeka, who is the Chaplin of St Camillus de Lellis Chaplaincy, College of Health Science, Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Nnewi ,who was shot on the head has been transferred from Memphis Specialist Hospital Enugu to Nnamdi Azikiwe University Teaching Hospital, Nnewi, where he is currently receiving treatment.”
“On a separate place the same Monday 26th September, 2016, a Vincentian priest whose name is yet to be confirmed was also kidnapped with his brother along Abuja Lokoja express way, another Catholic priest Rev. Fr. Emmanuel Ugwu was kidnapped on August 9,2014 along Ugwuogo-Nike-Opi and few weeks back a senior seminarian was killed in cold blooded in Attakwu, Enugu State, and one begins to wonder if Catholic priest have become endangered species”.
The visibly angry Rev. Fr. Aghaulor lashed out on South East Governors for doing nothing to protect people they are governing, “while their counterparts in the North are influencing the Federal Government in spending billions of naira to contain the Boko Haram insurgents, when something more worrisome and sinister than the activities of Boko Haram is being done in the South East by the Fulani Herdsmen”.
“The South East Governors and their Chairman have done nothing to protect the people of South East, the Enugu State Governor whose state is where the menacing activities of the of the herdsmen is worst and the state legislators have not done anything to protect the people there, they should borrow a leaf from Governor Ayo Fayose of Ekiti State.
“We are in Federalism, and each state have right to make certain law governing them, what prevents Enugu State Government from making laws that can protect the people there, Governors of South East and their State Assembly’s should make laws that will protect their people”.
Rev. Fr. Aghaulor lamented that since the existence of Nigeria, nobody has seen the level of killing spree that is being perpetrated by the Fulani herdsmen, adding that “while innocent people are left unprotected, we have seen barrage of military wares and personnel protecting the pipelines in Niger Delta, as if oil is more important than people’s life. Why should people be killed without provocation in their own traditional lands?
“We are asking the government for how long would this continue, is this the type of country we all signed up for, is this part of the change, is there no rules and laws in this country , all over Nigeria women are being raped, people are intimidated, innocent Nigerians are being slaughtered and property worth billions of Naira destroyed by the suspected Fulani Herdsmen”.