By Ifeanyi Okonkwo
Kidnapping is a global problem and a disturbing menace that affects countries all over the world. The abduction and killing of catholic priests has sparked massive reactions from social media users and concerned Nigerians who could not hold back their emotions.
The killing of 41 years old Rev. Fr Christopher Odia, the Administrator of St Michael Catholic Church, Ikabigbo community, who was also the Principal of St Philip Catholic Secondary School Jattu in Etsako West Local Government Area of Edo State, which came the same weekend (In less than 24 hours) that another Catholic priest, Rev Fr. Vitus Borogo, the chaplain of Kujama Catholic community who was also killed by terrorists in Kaduna State has left many wondering who will be next.
According to reports, Rev. Fr. Odia was kidnapped by the suspected herdsmen just before he was to commence Sunday mass in his rectory at Ikabigbo community, while 50 years old Rev. Fr. Borogo, on Saturday 25th June 2022 was murdered at the Prison Farm, Kujama, along the Kaduna-Kachia Road.
These recent developments has left many wondering why the Catholic Church has becoming a target of kidnappers and murderers across the country. This is the type of country we find ourselves.
On Thursday, June 23rd, 2022, popular Nnewi Anglican Priest, Venerable Ekene Remigius Iroanusi was also kidnapped.
Ven. Iroanusi who is currently the Archdeacon of Ichi Archdeaconry and Vicar of St. James’ Anglican Church, Ichi, in Ekwusigo LGA of Anambra State was kidnapped after he was said to have left a funeral ceremony at Nnewichi, Nnewi, Anambra State.
According to reports, the popular priest who served at St. Mark’s Anglican Church Nnewichi, Nnewi, few years ago, was intercepted by the kidnappers along the road within Uruagu Nnewi village. He was kidnapped alongside Mr. Justice Anyanwu, a church worker, who accompanied him to the funeral service.
Luckly, unlike Fr. Odie and Borogo who were killed, Venerable Ekene and Anyanwu where later released unhurt on Sunday night 26th June 2022 after spending three days. It is not clear if any ransom was paid to ensure their safe release at the time of writing.
On the 2nd of February 2020, after more than 20 days in captivity, one of the four Catholic seminarians kidnapped by gunmen early January in Kaduna state was killed.
The seminarian identified as Michael Nnaji was killed by his Kidnappers, while the other three were set free in batches.
Those set free where Kanwai Pius, Stephen Amos John Paul, Umeanuka Peter. They are students of philosophy at the Good Shepherd Major Seminary.
According to the Oxford dictionary, “Kidnapping refers to the abduction and captivity of a person, typically to obtain a ransom”. Sometimes kidnappers hold their captives longer in order to demand more money from the victim’s relatives or associates.
No matter the level of difficulty anyone is facing, it is not enough reason to choose kidnapping as a means of survival and these act must be condemned in totality.
Based on research, there are many causes of kidnapping such as unemployment, poverty, religion, political issues, ignorance and so on.
Kidnapping is not a new problem in Nigeria, and it is one of the biggest and disturbing challenges confronting the nation. The country no doubt is battling with many problems, such as unemployment, corruption, low rates of education amongst others vices but kidnapping has drawn the world’s attention and facts show that the rate of kidnapping in Nigeria is indeed high.
Findings have showed that there are many causes of kidnapping around the globe, including Unemployment, Poverty, illiteracy, Religion, Greed, Politics, Corruption and so on.
The high rate of unemployment in many countries and Nigeria in particular has forced citizens to find other ways to make money and some of those ways are illegal.
Kidnapping a rich person can be a lucrative business. A cash-strapped unemployed person may believe that when he kidnaps someone who is rich, he may be able to become rich himself.
Anyone who lives below $1.25 a day is living below the poverty line. Poverty can and has propelled many people toward crime as a way to make ends meet. Sometimes, a person who is poor might believe that kidnapping or other illegal acts could provide the necessary money to start a new life, a life that will no longer involve crime, but these has not been the case.
Analysts have suggested literacy and education amongst others as avenues which can be used to build a deeper understanding of moral judgment and decision making. When people know the consequences of their actions, how to read and write, they can gain the skills they need in order to become educated, get a job, and live a productive life
Some concerned individuals have argued, stating that kidnappings and bombings perpetrated by Boko Haram, the militant Islamic group in Nigeria, are caused by illiteracy, at least in part. The leaders of this group feed their men false information, which the men cannot disprove by reading outside sources. Boko Haram fighters engage in suicide bombings, killings, and kidnappings. They are told that if they die while carrying out their mission, they will inherit the kingdom.
Many kidnappings in the world today have their root cause in religion. Some people love their religion so much that even when it teaches them something that is wrong, they believe it is right. One religious leader may want to take over another group and order his men to kidnap his rivals.
Sadly, many Christians have withdrawn from attending church gatherings after several attacks where perpetuated against Christian’s in Ondo and Kaduna states recently, leaving many dead and others injured.
If religious leaders are been killed and if churches are been attacked, who and where is now save. But just as the scripture says, the church will always prevail and darkness will certainly give way when the light shines.
Government at this point needs to take the bull by the horn and protect its citizens against internal and external attacks because the security of life and property is the duty and responsibility of our leaders (government) whom we voted into power as prescribed in the 1999 Constitution as amended.
On the other hand, security cannot be left in the hands of government alone. Individuals, churches, groups, communities should all take preventive measures so as to avoid reoccurrence of these evil act. Citizens are duty bound to be security conscious because the security agencies cannot be everywhere at the same time. While we do our part, let us continue to pray for protection.
May the Souls of Rev. Fr. Fr Christopher Odia and Rev. Fr. Vitus Borogo and the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God rest in peace. Amen!
Ifeanyi Okonkwo, An Anambra based Journalist writes from Awka.