By Linda Bordoni
Father Christopher Ogaga, parish priest of the Emmanuel Catholic Church in Nigeria’s Delta State, was reportedly released by his captors on Wednesday.
Speaking to “Aid to the Church in Need”, Father Clement Abobo of Warri Diocese in southern Nigeria said father Ogaga is in good health and that no ransom was paid for his release.
Father Ogaga was kidnapped on Saturday, September 1, as he travelled from Okpe to Warri where he was scheduled to celebrate Mass the following morning.
The kidnappers reportedly asked for a ransom of over 15 million Naira (about $40,000), but according to Father Abobo, “as soon as they realized no one would pay the ransom, they released him”.
Father Abobo said he had visited Father Ogaga in hospital where he is undergoing some tests and confirmed that he is in good health even although he was held in the open with no food or water.
Father Abobo also reiterated that there were no religious motives behind the kidnapping.
For years, priests and religious have been targets of kidnapping for ransom by criminal gangs in Nigeria, even in predominantly Christian areas like Delta State.
Nigerian Bishops: kidnappings have reached 'unimaginable proportions'
In January, the Nigerian Bishops denounced “the plague of kidnappings for ransom that has reached unimaginable proportions”. In a statement, they wrote that “day after day citizens are kidnapped, humiliated and traumatized by heavily armed gangs. The kidnappers are merciless. In their efforts to obtain large sums of money they subject their victims to unspeakable violence lasting weeks or even months”.
For years, the Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria has issued a recommendation prohibiting the payment of ransoms for the release of priests and religious.