One of Nigeria’s most senior bishops has blamed government apathy for the recent surge in abductions of the clergy.
Archbishop Ignatius Kaigama of Abuja told Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need that the rise in abductions is “a disease that is spreading without any significant effort being made to stop it”.
He was particularly saddened by the situation in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital. In response to the kidnapping of 8 children from an orphanage this weekend, he said:
“One would have imagined that being around the federal capital territory one would be safer,” he said. “But we can see that even the children are not safe.”
In the last six weeks, four Nigerian clerics have been abducted: Auxiliary Bishop Moses Chikwe of Owerri, Father Valentine Ezeagu, Father Matthew Dajo and Father John Gbakaan. All have since been released, bar Father Gbakaan who was killed the day after he was taken.
Kaigama expressed his concern about the failure of security forces to find those responsible and has called for a “change of attitude” from the government.
“The fact that our security forces are unable to identify [the abductors] is disconcerting and suggests that they do not make much effort to ensure security,” he said, “this goes on and on and we are always told the same story.”
Questioning the governments use of finances, he urged them to “invest more in buying sophisticated equipment to prosecute criminals.”
“We don’t make good use of what we have,” he said, “even if money is being spent on buying safety equipment, the money is lost in the process and when you buy it, it is defective.”
Touching on the Church’s refusal to accept ransom demands, he said: “Paying a ransom means putting everyone for sale and in danger – all the priests, nuns and collaborators of the Church.
“[These are] people who move continuously between the villages without enjoying any kind of comfort but always ready to sacrifice themselves for the love of God and his people.”
He also noted the number of lay people. The cases do not get the same coverage. “They are what I would call silent victims, and there are many of them.”
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