Nigerian priest murdered, family held for ransom

A Church of Nigeria priest has been murdered, and his family held for ransom by kidnappers, sources in the West African nation tell Anglican Ink. On 7 February 2019 the Rev. Anthony Idris Jata’u and his family were driving along Maru road through Kaura Namoda in Zamfara state, when they chanced upon a gun battle between the army and Fulani herdsman.

Sources report the car overturned and Fr. Jata’u, who was driving, bled to death by the side of the road, while in the hands of the herdsmen. The gunmen seized his wife, three children and his wife’s two sisters and are holding them for ransom.  The Diocese of Sokoto reported the priest’s youngest children were left in the car.

The diocese sought to retrieve his body, but were unable to do so until Saturday due to the presence of gunmen in the area. The diocese reported on Facebook:

On Saturday, through the intervention of the Joint Task Force, the Diocesan and good people of Sokoto Diocese retrieved the body, which had decomposed. When the body was brought to Usman Dan Fodio University Teaching Hospital Sokoto, the morticians refused to attend to it due to its decomposition. Meanwhile, the JTF had to steal into the bush to get his body. Presently, the decision is that he will be buried immediately while his family is still with their captors. There will be a service of songs in his honour this evening [10 Feb 2019] at 5pm GMT+1 at the cathedral church of Holy Trinity, Ahmadu Bello Way, Sokoto. Tomorrow morning the commendation service will hold there, afterwards, burial at Christian cemetery Koko Road Area Sokoto.

The Punch newspaper reported the kidnappers have demanded 10 million Naira (approximately $28,000) for the safe release of the victims.

“Everybody is sad at the moment and afraid for the lives of his family members still in the custody of the bandits. The church doesn’t have such money but it’s hoping to raise a substantial sum to secure the release of the victims. The abductors separated the kids into different locations as it was glaring when they called and asked them to speak with the person whose mobile telephone the victims gave them. There is panic among worshippers as time is ticking and no one knows what their next line of action will be. Security agencies are aware of the case but there is nothing yet”, the a source told Punch.

Fr. Jata’u, from South Kaduna, was trained at the Crowther Graduate Theological Seminary in Abeokuta, in Ogun State. Punch reported that in 2006, he had been kidnapped for ransom while serving at St Andrew’s parish in the Diocese of Nnewi.

A statement released by the Archbishop of Canterbury’s office read: “My prayers and those of the whole community at Lambeth Palace are with the family of the Reverend Anthony Idris Jata’u, who grieve even as they continue to be held in captivity and great danger”.

“May God draw near them in comfort, and bring the freedom and justice that are so urgently needed. We pray too for the church led by the Reverend Jata’u, for all those suffering persecution for their faith, and for the whole nation of Nigeria, that Jesus Christ would light the path away from violence and towards peace,” the archbishop said.

A Church of Nigeria priest has been murdered, and his family held for ransom by kidnappers, sources in the West African nation tell Anglican Ink. On 7 February 2019 the Rev. Anthony Idris Jata’u and his family were driving through Gusau in Zamfara State on their way to Katsina state to take up a new parochial cure in the Diocese of Sokoto, when gunmen opened fire on their car.

Sources report the car overturned and Fr. Jata’u, who was driving, bled to death by the side of the road. The gunmen (believed to be Fulani herdsmen) seized his wife, three children and his wife’s two sisters and are holding them for ransom.  The priest’s youngest children were left in the car the Diocese of Sokoto reported. His body was recovered two days later.

The Punch newspaper reported the kidnappers have demanded 10 million Naira (approximately $28,000) for the safe release of the victims.

“Everybody is sad at the moment and afraid for the lives of his family members still in the custody of the bandits. The church doesn’t have such money but it’s hoping to raise a substantial sum to secure the release of the victims. The abductors separated the kids into different locations as it was glaring when they called and asked them to speak with the person whose mobile telephone the victims gave them. There is panic among worshippers as time is ticking and no one knows what their next line of action will be. Security agencies are aware of the case but there is nothing yet”, the a source told Punch.

Fr. Jata’u, from South Kaduna, was trained at the Crowther Graduate Theological Seminary in Abeokuta, in Ogun State. Punch reported that in 2006, he had been kidnapped for ransom while serving at St Andrew’s parish in the Diocese of Nnewi.

A statement released by the Archbishop of Canterbury’s office read: “My prayers and those of the whole community at Lambeth Palace are with the family of the Reverend Anthony Idris Jata’u, who grieve even as they continue to be held in captivity and great danger”.

“May God draw near them in comfort, and bring the freedom and justice that are so urgently needed. We pray too for the church led by the Reverend Jata’u, for all those suffering persecution for their faith, and for the whole nation of Nigeria, that Jesus Christ would light the path away from violence and towards peace,” the archbishop said.

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