The Kaduna state chapter of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) says the church has spent over N300 million to secure release of members who have been kidnapped in the last four years.
Joseph Hayab, chairman of CAN in the state, disclosed this in an interview with TheCable on Friday.
He said over 500 members of CAN have been abducted in the state between 2015 and 2019.
Hayab said more than 20 churches, especially, those located in communities along Kaduna-Abuja road have been closed as people living in those areas have relocated as a result of the activities of kidnappers.
“In the past four years, Christians in Kaduna state have suffered a lot. Generally, people in Kaduna state have suffered a lot in paying kidnappers ransom to ensure the release of either their family member or church member or neighbour or someone they know,” he said.
“It is sad to know that the church alone, from our statistics -ECWA Church, Baptist Church, Anglican Church, Catholic Church and many other Churches in Kaduna whose members have been kidnapped, have had to cough out between N200,000 and N8 million to kidnappers to secure their release. In the last four years, the church in Kaduna has paid over N300 million to kidnappers.”
He said the most embarrassing of such ransoms is that of a pastor of Friendship Church Kudenda, a suburb of Kaduna, which the kidnappers insisted that the N600,000 ransom must be accompanied with cigarettes worth N10,000.
He said in Kachia, a reverend father was abducted and a ransom of N1.5 million was paid but he has not been released after three months, “an indication that he might have been killed”.
“In many of our villages along Abuja road, people have abandoned their homes and relocated to places like Buwaya, Gonin- Gora, Romi and other suburbs around Kaduna metropolis as a result of activities of kidnappers,’’ he said.
“These are farmers, they don’t have any work, they keep coming around looking for assistance from us to pay rent and buy food. They are really suffering because no effort is being made to tame or put kidnapping activities in Kaduna state in check.
“Three weeks ago, kidnappers went to Marraban Rido, broke into three houses and abducted three women. I can go on and on to tell you incidences of people being frequently kidnapped and we keep on looking for money to pay the kidnappers.
“We don’t collect our offerings to give kidnappers, our offerings are supposed to be used for evangelism and catering for the needy. Now the money we are supposed to use for evangelism so that evil in the society would be reduced is being spent on paying ransom to kidnappers.
“It has come to a stage that we will not allow this to continue anymore because we have cried enough and no action is being taken and we are even being accused for crying out.
“There cannot be peace when there is no justice, the kind of peace I preach is not the peace of compromise, it is not the peace of lies, and it is not the peace of cheating. It is a peace where you must respect your neighbour, your neighbour respects you and the two of you respects each other.”
Yakubu Sabo, spokesman of the Kaduna police command, was not available for comments as of the time this report was filed. He neither answered calls nor respond to a text message sent.