Marauding Fulani herdsmen have taken their activities to some highways in Anambra State where they have kidnapped a Catholic Priest and shot another.
One of the victims of the latest onslaught of the herdsmen in the South East is the Rector of Fr. Tansi Major Seminary, Onitsha, Anambra State, Rev. Fr. Emmanuel Dim.
The herdsmen, who kidnapped the priest on Monday along the Nkoplogwu-Nimbo Road, are demanding a ransom of N2.5 million for his release.
Also on Monday, another Catholic cleric, who was travelling on the Abuja-Lokoja Highway, was abducted by gunmen.
The news of Father Dim’s abduction was broken on Wednesday in Nnewi by the Director of Communications, Nnewi Catholic Diocese, Rev. Fr. Hygi Aghaulor.
Father Aghaulor said that the incident occurred about 7pm on Monday when the priest and two others, Rev. Frs Jude Chukwuneke and Jude Ezeokana, were returning from Nsukka after a condolence visit to their colleague, Rev. Fr. Uchenna Ezeh of Nsukka Diocese, who lost his mother.
He said that while Rev. Fr. Dim is still being held by the herdsmen who have demanded a ransom of N2.5 million, Rev. Fr. Ezeokana, who lectures in both the Tansi Major Seminary and Nnamdi Azikiwe University, was briefly treated in Nsukka before he was moved to Awka, the Anambra State capital.
The cleric added that Rev. Fr. Chukwuneke, the chaplain of St Camillus de Lellis Chaplaincy, College of Health Sciences, Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Nnewi, who was shot in the head, had been transferred from Memphis Specialist Hospital, Enugu to the Nnamdi Azikiwe University Teaching Hospital.
Aghaulor said that a separate incident occurred on the same day when a Vincentian priest was kidnapped along the Abuja-Lokoja Highway while travelling in the company of his brother.
The Catholic priest lamented that when the first incident happened, “nobody expected that it will be carried out on a continuous basis.
“While we call on people of goodwill to continue to pray for the immediate release of Rev. Fr. Emma Dim and the Vincentian priest, we are tempted to wonder if Nigeria is on the verge of collapse. All over the country, women are being raped, intimidated, innocent Nigerians are being slaughtered and property worth billions of naira are being destroyed by hoodlums suspected to be Fulani herdsmen”.
Aghaulor decried the situation where innocent Nigerians are left unprotected while there are military wares and personnel protecting pipelines in the Niger Delta, which he said, gives the impression that “oil is more important than humans.”
The priest, who said that Catholic Priests have become endangered species, however, ruled out any payment of ransom in line with the position of the Catholic Bishops that the church will not for any reason pay ransom to criminals.
He called on the security agencies to evolve proactive mechanisms to ensure the protection of life and property in the country, noting that recent happenings are certainly not part of what the people signed up for as a nation.
“We want the Federal Government to address the inequality in appointments in the security sector, the current arrangement which gives the impression that the military and other security agencies belong to a particular region of the country is unacceptable. We implore the South East governors to learn from their Ekiti State counterpart and use constitutional means to protect the people in their states,” Aghaulor said.
Meanwhile, the police authorities in Nnewi were not forthcoming on Father Dim’s abduction. A senior police officer in the area, however, assured the public that everything will be done to secure the cleric’s release.
The AUTHORITY recalls that it was a ‘black Monday’ in the farming community of Nimbo in Uzo-Uwani Local Government Area on April 25, 2016 when Fulani herdsmen attacked farmers and killed scores of them.
Recently, an auditor with the Enugu State government was kidnapped by Fulani herdsmen who demanded N5 million for his release. The victim, Ogoobe Stephen, from Ukapi Nimbo, had gone home in company of six other persons.
Another Catholic priest, Rev. Fr. Emmanuel Ugwu, was kidnapped on August 9, 2014 by hoodlums suspected to be members of the Boko Haram sect. He was abducted along the Enugu new road. A few weeks later, a senior seminarian was killed in cold blood in Attakwu, Enugu State, during a night invasion by suspected herdsmen.