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6/20/2024 Nigeria (International Christian Concern) — Samuel Uche, prelate of the Methodist Church in Nigeria, shared during a recent press conference in Lagos that a ransom of 100 million Nigerian Naira (roughly $670, or a year’s worth of minimum wage earnings in Nigeria) was paid for his release after being kidnapped on June 9. The funds were packed in five sacks of 20 million Naira each. Uche also mentioned that there was no intervention from the government, military, or police forces regarding his release.

Uche, along with Methodist Bishop Owerri Diocese and his chaplain, were abducted while traveling from a church program in Okigwe, Imo state, to Isuochi in Umu Nneochi, Abia state. Uche reported that the abductors identified themselves as Fulani and expressed intentions of using ransom money to further their goals of “taking over Nigeria.”

Muslim bandits and radical Islamist Fulani often target pastors in Nigeria, primarily in the north. International Christian Concern (ICC) is aware of 22 pastors who have been abducted for ransom so far this year. Critics have said that the Nigerian military, security agencies, and other authorities have not taken sufficient action to address the abduction trend.

Kidnapping for ransom has become prevalent in certain areas of Nigeria, particularly the Southeast, where some violent incidents have been attributed to the Indigenous People of Biafra (POB), a group advocating secession. In recent years, the Nigerian government has adopted a stringent approach to ransom payments, with President Muhammadu Buhari signing a law criminalizing such payments.

In Nigeria, there have been reports of targeted attacks and kidnappings of Catholic priests, especially in the northern regions. Christian communities in the north face threats from groups like Boko Haram.

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