Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria, on Thursday, warned the Nigerian Army to be very careful with its actions because millions of Christians will besiege its office in solidarity with the Prelate of the Methodist Church Nigeria, His Eminence, Samuel Kanu Uche.
This was after the army invited the Prelate for interrogation over the deep revelations he made to Nigerians after he left his abductors den in Abia State.
Addressing the press in Abuja on Thursday, HURIWA, the National Coordinator of HURIWA, Emmanuel Onwubiko, said it is shameful that the Army cannot go after the kidnappers, who were identified as Fulani herders but was fast to summon the prelate, who only gave an account of what he saw while in the den of the deadly criminal.
The prelate Kanu-Uche was abducted by those he identified as Fulani terrorists along the Enugu-Port Harcourt Expressway in the Umunneochi Local Government Area of Abia State, and, according to him, paid the sum of N100m, which came from the church coffers, to secure his freedom.
The cleric, his chaplain, Very Rev. Abidemi Shittu and the Bishop of Owerri, Rt. Rev. Dennis Mark, were taken into the forest by the criminals who showed them decomposing bodies of some past victims.
He noted that the eight-man gang was made up of “Fulani boys,” who claimed to be against the government.
The cleric said only one of the hoodlums understood English, while others spoke Fulfulde.
More importantly, Uche said he observed that military men of the Nigerian army were around the place where the hoodlums operated, while their cows were also around the vicinity.
But responding to the claims made by the cleric, the army in its response, said it “would take this weighty allegation seriously and approach the Prelate and the Methodist church to unravel the basis for the allegation”.
Reacting, HURIWA’s Onwubiko said, “The development is unfortunate and condemnable. The Army is chasing shadows and Christians in Nigeria will not keep quiet.
“HURIWA calls on all Christians to join the Prelate to attend the Army’s interrogation and reject these oppressive tendencies.
“This is persecution. The army can’t stop terrorists because most Army officers are Fulanis and most terrorists are Fulanis. So, it is not a strange occurrence that they conspire against Igbos to cause instability.
“We support the Prelate and we are urging Millions of Christians to turn up and join the Prelate on the day of the appointment. the Prelate should transparently tell us about the date.”
According to HURIWA, the revelation of the Prelate Uche-Kanu is not new. It recalled that in February 2021, Julius Abuda, the younger brother of Chief Dennis Abuda, an American-based Nigerian businessman who was killed by kidnappers at Ahor, Benin, Edo State, said he dropped ransom for his brother’s kidnappers near a police station.
Also, a former Assistant Director with the Department of State Services, Mr. Dennis Amachree, in February 2021, said the compound where Islamic cleric, Sheikh Gumi, met bandits in Niger State to discuss the release of the abducted students and teachers of Government Science College, Kangara, was very close to a military post.
“An important question to ask is why the abduction of Christian clerics? Has any Nigerian heard of the kidnapping of any Muslim cleric? In May, Rev. Fr. Alphonsus Uboh of St. Pius X Parish IkotAbasi in the Mkpat Enin Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State was kidnapped,” HURIWA said.
“Rev. Fr. Uboh’s abduction occurred barely three weeks after the Founder of Solid Rock Kingdom Church, Apostle John Okoriko was abducted by gunmen in his church premises at Ibekwe Akpan Nya in the same Mkpat Enin LGA.
“In March, Reverend Father Joseph Bako of the St John Catholic Church, Kudenda in the Chikun Local Government Area of Kaduna State was kidnapped and he died in the kidnappers’ den.
The Christian Association of Nigeria said non-state actors now target clerics engaged in their pastoral duty across the country, adding that no fewer than 10 clerics have been kidnapped in 2022 alone. While ransom was paid to secure the release of some, others didn’t make it out alive.
“The development is saddening and it must stop. The Army must not be intimidating outspoken Nigerians. Enough!”