(By Paul Osuyi – ASABA)
Kidnappers of Rev. Fr. Jude Onyebadi of the Catholic Diocese of Issele-Uku, Delta State, have demanded a ransom of N20 million for the cleric to breathe the sweet air freedom.
Fr. Onyebadi who is the Parish Priest of Saint 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, and from the proceeds, the cleric deploys to scholarship programme for students at different levels of education.
Sources told our correspondent yesterday that Fr. Onyebadi was dragged into the bush by the abductors who ignored his utility vehicle at the farm during the operation that lasted few minutes.
The hoodlums were said to have immediately opened negotiations with a bosom friend of the victim and initially demanded for N50 million before reducing it to N20 million upon further negotiations.
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, Delta State Police Command has given the assurance that the abducted cleric will 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 told Daily Sun that 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.