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Gunmen Demand $1000 Ransom To Free Abducted Priest

By Mike Odeh James & Luka Binnyat

(Kaduna) –  Less than 24 hours after armed men abducted Rev Father Gabriel Udeh of  Zangon Kataf county, they have demanded  $1000  (N1.3 million Naira) ransom, locals told TruthNigeria.

The kidnappers attacked the Catholic vicarage Sunday night (June 9)  in Zamandabo village, 120 miles South of Kaduna metropolis.

“One of the kidnappers called this morning around 1400 hrs GMT and said that they are holding Fr. Udeh and that he is well,” Hon. Mark Zamani, a youth leader and a former Councilor of Zamandabo ward, told Truth Nigeria.

“They said that we must produce the money within two hours or “Father” will be killed,” he said.

According to him, there were frantic efforts going on to raise the sum. He added that the village has been tense since the kidnap incident, which is the first to be recorded in the area.

Map showing Zamandabo Town in Kaduna. Credit: Luka Binniyat.
Map showing Zamandabo Town in Kaduna. Credit: Luka Binniyat.

Another source in Zamandabo who does not want his name mentioned told TruthNigeria that the kidnappers outsmarted village guards (vigilante) by parking their motor bikes far away and stealthily walking to the  isolated home of the priest.

“We suspect that one of them that he knows must have called him to open the door, perhaps to help him solve a problem,” the local man said.

 According to him, Father Udeh had been hiring some young Hausa men from Zangon Kataf town, about 6 miles west of the village,  to work on his farm and also do domestic chores – a development that the villagers criticized, seeing the willing hands around him that he ignored.

“They became too close to him, and we have raised this concern with him, because the Hausa Muslims who are the majority in Zangon Kataf town, are the ones harboring the Fulani militia that have been attacking our communities since 2020,” he added.

“We strongly suspect them,” he said.

However, Venerable Emmanuel Yunana, Chairman of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) in Atyap Chiefdom, gave a slightly different account of the crime.

Yunana said that the terrorists, numbering around 15 and all of Fulani ethnicity, arrived at the parish vicarage under the cover of darkness.

 ”They came in the night, heavily armed, and forced the Rev. Father unto their bikes before speeding away,” Yunana revealed in an exclusive chat with TruthNigeria.

The CAN chairman expressed skepticism about the authorities’ willingness to act, stating that the incident has been reported to the police and army, but he doubts whether they will take concrete steps to locate the kidnapped priest or apprehend the terrorists.

Rev. Fr. Emmanuel Kazah, the Vicar General, who is the secretary of the parish, condemned the abduction and urged the government to improve security intelligence to prevent such incidents.

“We are deeply concerned about the incessant kidnappings for ransom of innocent citizens and call on the government to take decisive action,” Kazah said.

 ”The parish seeks fervent prayers for the priest’s safe release, and we appealed for calm and urged the public to refrain from taking the law into their own hands,” he said.

the parish is working closely with security operatives to ensure the priest’s quick release, according to Fr. Kazah.

Atyap Chiefdom, in Zangon Kataf county and is home to the predominantly Christian Atyap ethnic group, which has suffered myriad attacks in the hands of Fulani militia.

Ten Christian Cleric Kidnapped in One Week

Elder James Shindong, a Christian missionary based in Kachia, Kachia county, told TruthNigeria that between June 2, 2024, and June 9, 2024, at least 10 Christian leaders, clerics, and relations were abducted in Southern Kaduna is composed of 12 counties  with a land mass of about 10,000 sq miles South of Kaduna metropolis.

“Rev. Peter Sabo, his wife, and some of his children were kidnapped and taken to Dajin Nasa,” Shindong said. Dajin Nasa is an expansive, open woodland of hundreds of square miles and shares a border with  Laduga, a notorious, exclusive Fulani community that straddles Zangon Kataf and Kachia county in Southern Kaduna.

 “In one week, ten Christian leaders  were kidnapped in Southern Kaduna, including two pastors’ wives and six other Christians  in Kachia County,” according to Shindong.

All the abductees were taken to Dajin Nasa, and their Fulani kidnappers and terrorists have demanded huge ransoms, but the exact amounts are not public, Shindong said.

“It’s confusing that despite the presence of multiple military checkpoints and formations between Kachia, Idon, and Zangon Kataf, the kidnappers continue to operate with impunity,” said Shindong.

All efforts to get the comments of Kaduna State Police Command Spokesman,(ASP) Mansir Hassan on the incident were futile as he did not pick his calls and did not respond to questions sent him through sms.

Luka Binniyat and Mike Odeh are conflict reporters based in Kaduna.

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