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Nigerian archbishop is kidnapped

13 September 2013


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 kidnapped.

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 family."

The Archdeacon reported that, since the enthronment of Bishop Kattey in 2000, about 158 churches had been planted in the diocese.

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 and freedom.
For the sake of your son Jesus Christ, who suffered and died for our liberation and who is our peace.

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