NIGERIA: Bishop Peter Imasuen of Benin abducted by gunmen
By ENS staff, January 25, 2010
[Episcopal News Service] The Anglican bishop of the Diocese of Benin, Church of Nigeria, was abducted at gunpoint from his home Jan. 24 after returning from a service of Holy Eucharist at St. Matthew’s Cathedral in the nation’s southern state of Edo, according to news reports.
The gunmen are reportedly asking for a ransom for the safe return of the Rt. Rev. Peter Imasuen, chairman of the Christian Association of Nigeria for Edo state.
“We are trying to establish what exactly happened but we understand the kidnappers are asking for 15 million naira [about US$100,000],” Samuel Salifu, CAN secretary general, told Agence France-Presse.
A report on the Nigerian news website This Day said that Imasuen had been trailed by the kidnappers from the cathedral. “Witnesses disclosed that the suspected kidnappers, who wielded sophisticated weapons, forced their way” into the bishop’s residence and attacked the security man on duty, the report said. “According to them, the bishop was dragged out of his vehicle and driven to an unknown destination.”
Kidnapping for ransom is reportedly common in Nigeria. Imasuen’s kidnapping occurred less than a month after soldiers were withdrawn from a military operation intended to combat “the alarming spate of abductions and violent crimes in the state last year,” according to The Punch, a Nigerian newspaper.
Meanwhile, a curfew in Jos, a city in the central part of Nigeria, has been relaxed a week after interreligious violence erupted and left about 500 people dead, Ecumenical News International reported.
Fighting first broke out on Jan. 17 after Christian youths were reportedly protesting at the building of a mosque in the Christian-majority area of Jos, the capital of Nigeria’s Plateau State. The violence later spread to nearby towns and villages.
Followers of both Christianity and Islam in Jos, which has a population of about half a million people, each blamed gangs from the other’s community for sparking the violence, ENI noted.