In an interview with the Catholic charity organization, Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), the Local Ordinary of Sokoto Diocese, Bishop Matthew Kukah, said he was in contact with those behind the abduction Fr. Keke.
“We have established contact with the kidnappers and we are talking,” Bishop Kukah was quoted as saying in the May 26 report, and added, “It is one of the most painful experiences, talking and pleading with hardened criminals and murderers who, in a more civilized environment, should be locked away for life, but before whose mercy you stand.”
The Nigerian Bishop disclosed the nature of the negotiations in monetary terms saying, “From the voice of the man, he may be in his 30s. On Saturday, they asked for ₦100m (US$.242,424) and then came down to ₦50m (US$.121,212) and that is the way it goes. You make an offer and it keeps going on and on.”
The abduction of Fr. Keke and the murder of Fr. Bello who was laid to rest Tuesday, June 1 are the latest incidents in a series of attacks that have targeted church institutions and personalities in Nigeria.
On March 30, this year, Fr. Ferdinand Fanen Ngugban and six others were killed following the attack on St. Paul Ayetwar Parish of Nigeria’s Katsina Diocese.
On May 17, a Catholic Priest of Kaduna Archdiocese was kidnapped alongside ten other people when gunmen invaded Kadaje community in Kachia Local Government Area (LGA) of Kaduna State, an incident that saw eight people lose their lives.
On May 19, bandits reportedly attacked the Ungwan Gaida community in Chukun LGA, torched an Assembly of God’s Church building and killed eight people.
Catholic Bishops have expressed concerns about the high levels of insecurity in the country and called for urgent action to save the situation.
In a statement issued May 11, Catholic Bishops in Nigeria’s Ecclesiastical Provinces of Onitsha and Owerri said that the West African nation is in “great danger” and that urgent action was required to address the high levels of insecurity.