KIDNAPPERS of Rev. Fr. Jude Onyebadi of the Catholic Diocese of Issele-Uku, Delta State have demanded N20 million ransom for his release.
Fr. Onyebadi, who is the Parish Priest of SS Peter and Paul Catholic Church, Issele-Azagba, was kidnapped last Friday at his pineapple farm between Ubulu-Uku and Issele-Uku communities by three gunmen suspected to be Fulani herdsmen.
A renowned philanthropist, Fr. Onyebadi owns one of the biggest commercial pineapple farms in the state. The cleric channels the proceeds to scholarship programme for indigent students.
Sources said Fr. Onyebadi was dragged into the bush by the abductors who did not touch his Sports Utility Vehicle at the farm during the operation that lasted few minutes.
The kidnappers immediately opened negotiations with the cleric’s friend and initially demanded N50 million before reducing it to N20 million.
But Director of Communications of the diocese, Rev. Fr. Charles Uganwa, who also confirmed the kidnap of his colleague, insisted that the church will never pay ransom to any kidnapper to free one of its own.
Fr. Uganwa noted that the church does not encourage the payment of ransom to criminals, adding that the act will only increase criminality in the society, and appealed to the conscience of the abductors to free his colleague unhurt and unconditionally.
Meanwhile, the state police command has assured that the cleric would soon be rescued unhurt, urging the church and all those connected with him to cooperate with security operatives.
Spokesman of the command, DSP Andrew Aniamaka, who gave the assurance yesterday in Asaba, said his men were already closing-in on the hoodlums.
“We are combing the bushes and very soon, he will be freed. I can assure you that we are monitoring the kidnappers who keep shifting from one location to the other, but no matter how they may try to hide hide, we will get them.”
We are not just going to rescue the victim, we will also ensure that the hoodlums are arrested and brought to book,” he vowed.