ABUJA, Nigeria (AP) — Gunmen have kidnapped the prelate of the Methodist Church Nigeria, police said Monday, in an incident that once again mirrors the troubling security challenges in the West African nation.
His Eminence Samuel Kanu Uche was kidnapped Sunday along a highway in the Umunneochi area in Nigeria’s southeastern Abia state, police spokesperson Geoffrey Ogbonna told The Associated Press. Two other senior clerics with him were also taken hostage.
Nigeria’s southeast has in recent years grappled with violent attacks and abductions often blamed on unknown gunmen. Authorities have accused members of the Indigenous People of Biafra, a leading separatist group, of being behind many of the attacks.
There has been no word yet from the kidnappers, Ogbonna said, adding that “we are making efforts” to rescue him and the two other captives.
The leadership of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) condemned the kidnapping and called on Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari to “give an express order to the security agencies to free them immediately and stop the incessant abduction of clerics and other innocent Nigerians.”
“If a great servant of God of Uche’s caliber could be kidnapped like a three-year-old baby on a major road without any resistance from the police, it speaks volumes of what our security architecture has become,” the Christian association said.
Other political and religious leaders have also called for the release of the prelate and many others in captivity in Nigeria, where abductions for ransoms have been a worrying trend.
“This is no more a country one can be proud of,” said Adebayo Oladeji with CAN. “No reasonable government can continue to leave the citizens in a terrible state of insecurity as we are presently.”