- The Prelate of Methodist Church of Nigeria who was kidnapped on Sunday, May 29, has detailed his experience with his abductors
- His Eminence Samuel Uche Kanu said N100 million was paid as ransom for his release and that of two other leaders of the church including the Bishop of Owerri diocese
- According to the prelate, the kidnappers admitted not having problems with Nigerians by with the government of the country
Following his release from the kidnappers' den on Monday, May 30, the Methodist prelate, Samuel Uche Kanu has narrated his ordeal as a 24 hours captive of some herdsmen operating in the southeast.
The prelate who was kidnapped alongside two others, his chaplain and the Bishop of Owerri Diocese said the kidnappers were eight young boys, out of which the youngest was about 19 years old and the oldest less than 35 years.
In an interview with journalists and a video link shared on Abia City TV the prelate, he was returning from a church service and heading for the airport when the kidnap incident occured.
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"On Saturday, we concluded the service and in order to catch up with my flight along with my chaplain at 4.30; we took off by 2 pm to the airport.
"Oblivious of the fact that kidnappers were on the road and as we descended to Leru, in Abia state, these people came out of the bush, they divided themselves into three places, some were at the back while others were at the centre - those who fired shots at us. And there was another group to make sure that we didn't run away."
The Methodist prelate said shots were fired at their vehicle and three of them - himself, the Bishop of Owerri and his chaplain - were eventually abducted while others managed to escape from the abductors.
Adding that they were taken into the bush where they were tortured by the criminals, the prelate narrated that he hit his eye on a tree and got injured.
"All they said is that we should follow them and they are not actually against Nigerians but against the government; that the government is a bad government.
"They are Fulani boys, all the eight of them are Fulani boys and that any day they see the president that they will chew him that he is their brother but he has disappointed them and disappointed Nigerians..
"They said any day they see him or any of his representatives, they will chew them."
The cleric noted that only one of the boys (the kidnappers) was able to communicate well in English others were speaking the Fulani dialect.
He added that soon after they were abducted he (Kanu) explained to them that they are men of God and not government officials.
Continuing Kanu added:
"I told them even though I am part of government, I am a churchman and not a government official, a Christain, they said okay, that is what has saved you if not we would have killed you outrightly without asking for ransom"
Ransom for the abductees
Having reached that point of discussion with the kidnappers, the prelate said they proceeded to ask that they make N150 million available (N50 million each) for the release of three of the victims.
He added that thinking they were joking, he offered them N10 million but that got them infuriated and they placed one of them (the Bishop of Owerri) on a platform threatening to cut his head off.
Kanu said at that point they agreed on N100 million as ransom and further gave him his phone to make contact with his family and church and he was able to call and ask that money be put together for his release.
He noted that he also pleaded with the kidnappers to exercise some patience as it was Sunday and the next day Monday might be slow due to the sit-at-home observed in the southeast.
They honoured his appeal but at exactly 3 pm on the same Monday, the kidnappers brought the phone to him to call his family and church again for the money.
All items on them including cash, his wedding ring and other clerical jewelleries were snatched away from them.
Security operatives stationed close to the kidnappers' den
Speaking about the security situation in the country, Kanu said that what baffled him most throughout his ordeal was the presence of soldiers around the area.
"What pained me most, the irony of it is that where they were situated, there were soldiers, Nigerian soldiers, they were there at Lokpa junction and these boys were going behind them.
"Meanwhile, they kept their cows somewhere, numbering about 200 somewhere and people were taking care of the cows and they were parading us in the bush until finally they settled somewhere."
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"When I called at about 12 noon, I asked how about the money, there said they had raised N30 million and I asked them to gather any money in the office because life is more important.
"Eventually by 3 pm, they said call your people and I called them, the man that picked the phone said we have raised N130 million and I said, please give them N100 million."
"Their leader said package the money. Their leader was born in Igboland, a boy from Sudan, but the parents had died, he said he was born in Umuahia and his father was a cow dealer. The boy understood Igbo."
The kidnappers had also warned them against involving security operatives or they will be killed like the about seven decomposing bodies they showed them at the location.
Why Methodist prelate was released by kidnappers in less than 24-hours, governor reveals
Ikpeazu said the trio were released due to the grace of God, the prayers made by the Christian community and the efforts of security officers in the state.
According to the governor, there would be improved security measures taken by his administration to curb the activities of criminals in the state.
100 million ransom? Methodist prelate, others regain freedom
His Eminence, Samuel Kanu-Uche, the Prelate of the Methodist Church, Nigeria and two other priests were freed by their abductors on Monday, May 30, barely 24 hours after they were kidnapped along the Umunneochi-Isuikwuato axis on Sunday, May 29.
The Police Public Relations Officer, Abia state command, Geoffrey Ogbonna, confirmed the release of the victims.
However, Ogbonna noted that he could not give details as to whether a ransom was paid to secure the release of the kidnapped victims or not.