Church Leader Admits Ransom Paid Before Release From Fulani Terrorists

Farrukh Saif

June 22, 2024

Samuel Kanu-Uche-Methodist Church

Lagos, Nigeria – Samuel Kanu-Uche, the prelate of the Methodist Church in Nigeria, has revealed that a ransom of 100 million Nigerian Naira (approximately $240,000) was paid for his release after being kidnapped on June 9. The announcement was made during a press briefing in Lagos shortly after his release, where he recounted the harrowing experience.

Kanu-Uche, along with two other priests, was abducted by eight armed men while traveling in southeastern Nigeria’s Abia State. The kidnappers ambushed their vehicle, shooting sporadically before taking them hostage. The clergymen’s driver and one other church member managed to escape the assault.

During their captivity, the Fulani kidnappers showed the abducted clergymen decomposing bodies of previous victims who had failed to pay the ransom, threatening to do the same to them if the ransom was not paid. The church ultimately decided to pay the ransom to secure their release, which sparked significant controversy.

Complicity and Security Concerns:

Kanu-Uche has accused local soldiers of being complicit in the kidnapping, suggesting that the security forces in the area may have had a role in the abduction. This accusation raises severe concerns about the region’s effectiveness and integrity of security operations.

Government Stance on Ransom Payments:

The Nigerian government has consistently opposed the payment of ransoms, arguing that it emboldens kidnappers and perpetuates the cycle of abductions. In response to the growing kidnapping crisis, the Nigerian Senate recently approved legislation that would impose up to 15 years imprisonment for those who pay ransoms. The bill also includes provisions for the death penalty if a kidnapped victim dies in custody.

However, this legislation has faced criticism from rights groups and families of kidnapped victims. Critics argue that without adequate security measures to ensure the swift rescue of abductees, families and organizations are left with no choice but to pay ransoms to secure the release of their loved ones.

Context of Insecurity:

The kidnapping of Kanu-Uche is part of insecurity in Nigeria, where armed Muslim groups and criminals have kidnapped hundreds, possibly thousands, of people for ransom over the past two years. This includes at least 1,500 students abducted in northcentral and northwestern Nigeria since late 2020, according to UNICEF.

The Methodist Church in Nigeria, led by Archbishop Chibuzo Opoko in Abia State, defended the decision to pay the ransom, stating that the clergymen would not have been released without it.

Farrukh Saif

Farrukh H. Saif, a courageous Christian human rights activist, established the Farrukh Saif Foundation in 2009 to confront religious discrimination, blasphemy laws, and bonded slavery in Pakistan. His dedication to liberating bonded laborers from brick kilns and advocating for blasphemy victims and asylum seekers has garnered international acclaim. Despite encountering threats and fatwas, his impactful work persists in supporting marginalized communities. In 2018, the foundation merged with The Emergency Committee to Save the Persecuted and Enslaved, enhancing its global outreach.

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