Insecurity : Finally Kidnapped Taraba Clergymen regain Freedom

Emmanuel Awari-Jalingo

The Clergymen of the United Methodist Church UMC kidnapped on the 19th December 2023 have regain their freedom.

Announcing their freedom in a statement in Jalingo, the Director Connectional Ministries of the Southern Conference, United Methodist Church UMC, Rev Philip Micah Dopah gave the names of the Clergymen as, Rev. Elkanah MK Ayuba and Rev Simon D. Ezra.

He said released clerics were among the persons kidnapped in the Yorro local government council of Taraba State, a few days before last Christmas.

“A huge ransom was paid by the church to secure their freedom.

The church had earlier threatened to resort to self defense if both the state and federal governments continued to be lukewarm toward the activities of bandits and kidnappers in Taraba.

Although the amount paid as ransom was not made public by the church, who he earlier expressed sadness that despite paying N11 million to secure the release of the clergy men, their abductors still held them hostage.

At the time of filing this report, it is not clear whether the church added to the N11 million paid earlier.

A source from the church said “as the bishop has earlier disclosed, N11 million was earlier taken to kidnappers as ransom in order for them to released our clergies that were in their custody.

“But after that, we never heard from the kidnappers again, and our Reverend gentle men were not released to us.”

The source could not confirm the exact amount paid to secure the clergymen’s release.

“For sure, I know that a huge amount of money was paid as ransom, but to be honest with you, I can’t tell the exact amount that was involved. Our happiness is that they have regained their freedom, and they are back to the church and to their family members unhurt. So, we give thanks to God,” he added.

Recall that the Director Connectional Ministries of the United Methodist Church UMC Rev Philip Micah Dopah on the 4th, January 2024 address a Press Conference in Jalingo on the delay in releasing the Clergymen despite ransom paid.

“We wish to let the whole World know that Yorro local government is under siege. This followed the abduction of Twenty people in Pupule town, including two pastors Rev. Elkanah Ayuba and Rev. Simon Ezra and members of the church on 19th December 2023 till now they are under the custody of Kidnappers. On 23rd December 2023, the Kidnappers also launched another invasion into Dila village where Hon. Dimas Ishaya of UMC Dila Charge and others were taken barely four days after the Pupule incident.

He further said that on 26th December 2023, the villagers were in Gongon Maliki market, kidnappers invaded the area around 3;pm and Kidnapped many people including the pastor of UMC Kasakuri and other members were victims of circumstances.

“We therefore in strong terms condemn the ungodly, barbaric, unethical, heartless, evil and senseless act ongoing in the Yorro Community.

“This ugly development has led confusion among the body of Christ and the community at large.

According to him, the siege on the Yorro Community has crippled economy development of the area and worsening the hardship of the rural dwellers as huge ransom was demanded by the Kidnappers and the abductors could not celebrate Christmas and New Year with their families and the church, describing it as heartbreaking and unfortunate.

Rev. Philip Micah Dopah appreciated the efforts of Governor Kefas Agbu, President Ahmed Bola Tinibu and Security agencies in tackling the security challenges.

“The Church is making a passionate call to the State and Federal Governments to act and act fast to end this ugly incident to ensure the release of our Pastors and Fourteen others or resort to self – defense which is both Biblical and Constitutional.

“The Church will mobilize people to protest and block the Mararaba – Zing road, if State and Federal Governments refuse to take any action.

He also call on Traditional rulers and political office holders both past and present from the area, to come out clear and tell the world that they are not part of the incidents.

“They should come out and tell the world that their hands are clean, to counter the video in circulation on the social media, where the key leader of the Kidnappers is saying that they have the backing of some leaders and prominent people of the area – he said.

The Director Connectional Ministries implore the people of Yorro Community to be security conscious by reporting any strange movement of suspicious elements in the area to relevant God – fearing security agencies for prompt action.

“They should note that Government alone cannot provide the needed security in the society, hence the need for collaboration to make Yorro Community safe again.

“The Bible teaches us that God answer prayers of those who diligently seek him. We should all intercede through prayers in our churches and abodes for an end to the Insecurity on our land.

He denied any knowledge of the release of victims as claim by the Taraba state Police Command.

“To the best of my knowledge, none of our members are released as speculated by the Police. Only the Chief of Pupule, Imam and a pregnant woman were released, but all our Pastors and other members are still with the Kidnappers.

“No Christian was released. We as a Church have been their target. Ransom was paid, but only Muslims were released. In Pupule, Twenty people were abducted, Fifteen are still in custody of kidnappers. Ransom was paid before victims of Dila were released – he added.

Speaking on the issue, the Commissioner of Police, Taraba state Command, CP Joseph Eribo, said that the police is aware of the situation and that very soon, they will bring the situation to an end.

“Yorro local government would soon experience peace. The area is notorious due to its terrain. The police is discoursing means of flushing them out in longer distance time.

He advise the Church not to embark on any form of protest, but give the police useful information on how to tackle the situation, describing the Kidnappers as common criminals who lives amongst the people.

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