THE kidnapping of the Archbishop of Niger Delta Province in
Nigeria, the Most Revd Ignatius Kattey (above), was a
shock in an area where the threat to clerics is perceived to be
minimal, an archdeacon from his diocese said this week.
The Ven. John Chukwuemeka Adubasim, of the diocese of Niger
Delta North, was speak- ing on Tuesday, four days after the
kidnapping took place near Port Harcourt, a city in the diocese. He
is currently in the diocese of Guildford, which is linked to
Nigeria, on a study visit, and was visiting a parish in the diocese
when he received a call from Nigeria at 10.30 p.m. on Friday,
informing him that both the Archbishop and his wife had been
This Friday, the Archbishop of Canterbury described the
kidnapping as "deeply shocking", and issued a public prayer for
Archbishop Kattey's safe return.
"We were worried and started praying," said Archdeacon Adubasim.
"About 12.35 a.m., I got a call that his wife, Beatrice, was
released by the kidnappers, so I put a call to her to find out her
situation. She was very worried and after some time of
encouragement, she narrated how it had happened. They were on their
way to Port Harcourt from their village and, as they were getting
close to Port Harcourt, they were stopped by some armed men who
pushed down the driver and took them some kilo- metres inside the
bush. After some time they released her and asked her to go. Up to
date, we have not heard from them; nobody has claimed
responsibility for the kidnap; no calls have come in. That has made
us very apprehensive."
Archbishop Kattey is Dean of the Church of Nigeria and thus its
second most senior cleric. On Monday, the communciations director
of the province, Canon Taiwo Faluso, said: "We are praying that God
in his infinite mercy will grant us, very quickly, the Dean's
release from the hoodlums that took him."
On Monday, a police spokeswoman, Angela Agabe, told Reuters that
police were hunting the kidnappers.
"We believe the Archbishop will be released soon going by the
infor- mation available," she said.
The British Foreign Office reports that there is a "high threat"
of kidnap throughout Nigeria, and insurers estimate that there are
at least 1000 kidnappings every year. It is three years since the
Bishop of Ngbo, in south Nigeria, the Rt Revd Christian Ebisike,
was kidnapped. He was released the next day.
On Tuesday, Archdeacon Adubasim said: "We have not had it this
way before. I was [the Bishop's] chaplain for three-and-a-half
years and we did not have any security issue on the Bishop, no
attempt of any kind on him. That is why we are very much surprised
at what is happening. In the recent times, Port Harcourt in
particular has been very calm and peaceful. We are very shocked
about this incident."
The militant Islamist group Boko Haram operates in the north of
Nigeria, and the Archdeacon said that the south, which is
overwhelmingly Christian, did not struggle with "intolerance".
He described the Archbishop, to whom he is "very close", as "a
child of God, . . . a peace-loving man. . . That is why what is
happening is very disheartening, because he embraces everybody as a
The Archdeacon reported that, since the enthronment of Bishop
Kattey in 2000, about 158 churches had been planted in the
On Tuesday, the Bishop of Guildford, the Rt Revd Christopher
Hill, who is scheduled to visit Nigeria in November, said: "We are
deeply shocked. It brings it home to all of us when such a terrible
thing is so close, and we have realised that through Archdeacon
John being with us at the present time, and we are doing our best
to support him, and of course are praying with a deep concern for
Bishop Ignatius, Beatrice, his wife, and family, and we hope and
pray for a good outcome."
Archbishop Welby's prayer:
Heavenly Father, whose love is limitless and grace
without measure, you have called us to share in the suffering of
those in persecution and great trouble.
We pray for the nation of Nigeria, for its leaders and
people. Grant them wisdom in the trials they face and bring them
again to peace and security.
We pray especially for Archbishop Kattey in the Niger
Delta. Uphold him in courage and faith. Enable him to know your
love, and bring him again to be with his family and friends in joy
For the sake of your son Jesus Christ, who suffered and
died for our liberation and who is our peace.