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Archbishop Kattey freed

20 September 2013


THE Archbishop of Niger Delta Province in Nigeria, the Most Revd Ignatius Kattey, was freed on Saturday, more than a week after he was kidnapped by armed men (News, 13 September), writes Madeleine Davies.

He was released in a stable condition on Saturday evening without the payment of a ransom, police said. The kidnapping took place on Friday 6 September near the Archbishop's residence in the southern city of Port Harcourt.

On Wednesday, the Nigerian press reported that the Archbishop had used a press conference on Tuesday to rebut claims that the police had rescued him.

"The police did not rescue me, neither were they the ones who rescued my wife, Beatrice," Vanguard, a Nigerian newspaper, reported him as saying. "I saw the police for the first time two days ago, after the incident. I heard the statements made by the Rivers State police public relations officer. The police are telling lies. If you cannot trust the police, then who can you trust? I told the Commissioner of Police and he has apologised.

"I know that they made efforts but they did not rescue us. A helicopter flew over the area more than 500 times, but the boys [kidnappers] were smarter. They held me in a thick forest and no one could see me there.

"On the day of my release, the kidnappers moved me and we trekked a number of kilometres till we got to a road. Then they gave me N200 and ordered me to walk towards a direction where I would get a bike. We thank God for his mercies because I wouldn't even wish my enemy to go through that experience.

"I was not tortured. They fed me on fast food once a day, sometimes on bole [roast plantain]. They tied and chained my legs, but one of them said 'you can't chain this man'. I slept on the ground, beaten by rain and bitten by mosquitoes like them for up to seven days. As an old man of 65 years, I had no choice than to stay and swim in the forest with them."

The Archbishop said that he forgave his kidnappers, and appealed to the authorities to review the security situation in the country and consider the causes of his ordeal, the newspaper reported.

"From my experience, the abductors are hungry and in dire need of means of livelihood. Some are adequately educated but lack the enabling environment to positively express themselves. If government will  give the people potable water, light and good roads, they will change."

Last week, Archdeacon John Chukwuemeka Adubasim, of the diocese of Niger Delta North, described how the kidnapping had been a shock in an area where the threat to clerics is perceived to be minimal.

On Sunday, the Archbishop of Canterbury gave thanks for Archbishop Kattey's safe return.

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