Gunmen kidnap three Nigerian pastors during church camp

Two of the three church leaders kidnapped at gunpoint during a church prayer camp in northern Nigeria remain in captivity, over a week since their abduction on March 21.

A man rides a motorbike in the countryside of Kaduna StateReuters

One of men, Rev Iliya Anto, was released due to poor health, but the other two men remain in captivity. Their kidnappers are demanding a ransom of 100 million naira ($500,000).

The two pastors that remain in captivity are Rev Dr Emmanuel Dziggau and Rev Yakubu Dzarma.

All three men belong to the United Church of Christ in Nigeria (TUCCN) and were preparing for an Easter retreat when they were kidnapped by armed men, who attacked the camp site in Kaduna.

"We were all holding a prayer meeting at the prayer camp located along the Kaduna-Abuja Highway in the city of Kaduna," Rev Jibrailu Wobiya, who escaped with other church members, told Morning Star News.

"We were working on the camp site in preparation for our forthcoming church conference when the kidnappers invaded the place and began shooting into the air."

The assailants attacked the camp at 10am. Armed with AK-47s and with covered faces, they captured the three pastors and put them in the back of a van.

The general secretary of TEKAN, the parent church of TUCCN, urged the government to rescue the two pastors who remain in captivity.

"The kidnappers have contacted me, being the general secretary of TEKAN, about the two pastors they are holding captive, and they are demanding that we pay them a ransom of 100 million naira," said Rev Moses Ebuga.

"As a body, we are calling on the government to do everything possible to ensure the safety of the leaders, unearth their whereabouts and to have the perpetrators fished out."

The leader of the Christian Association of Nigeria has also urged the government to act immediately.

"Our hearts go out in prayer for their quick and unconditional release by their captors unharmed," said Rev Musa Asake, national secretary for the association.

"We wish to use this opportunity to call on all the relevant security agencies and the Kaduna state government where Dziggau resides to leave no stone unturned in ensuring their quick release.

"We kindly request all men and women of goodwill to join faith with us as we lift our eyes in prayer unto the hills of heaven; we have an assurance that our help ultimately comes from God, the maker of heaven and earth, and indeed the Author of life. Our God will not let us down. He will touch the hearts of Dziggau's abductors and all those involved in this unwholesome act of criminality and wickedness to release him immediately."