AFRICA/NIGERIA - Fr. Joe Keke, kidnapped with the priest who was later found dead, has been released

Friday, 4 June 2021 violence   kidnappings   bishops  

Abuja (Agenzia Fides) - Fr. Joe Keke, the priest kidnapped on the night of May 20 in the attack on the parish of St. Vincent Ferrer in Malunfashi, in the state of Katsina, in northern Nigeria (see Fides, 21/5/2021) has been released. Together with him, the bandits had kidnapped Father Alphonsus Bello, whose body was found the next morning not far from the parish.
This was announced yesterday, June 3, by the Director of Communications of the diocese of Sokoto, Fr. Chris Omotosho. "We announce that Fr. Keke has been released from the hands of his captors. We thank those who prayed for his release". The 75-year-old priest was taken to a health facility to check his health conditions.
Kidnappings for the purpose of extortion are now a daily plague in various areas of Nigeria, and in many cases among the victims include priests, men and women religious, despite the express prohibition imposed for years by the local Bishops' Conference on paying ransoms.
The Bishops have long denounced the general insecurity in the country. On the occasion of the funeral vigil of Fr. Alfonso Bello, His Exc. Mgr. Matthew Hassan Kukah, Bishop of Sokoto, had addressed a strong reprimand to the authorities of the country because they do nothing to protect the population from the wave of violence (see Fides 1/6/2021).
The Archbishop of Lagos, His Exc. Bishop Alfred Adewale Martins has also affirmed that "from north to south, all parts of the country are witnesses of one form or another of vandalism". Bishop Martins has raised the question of the right to self-defense, in the absence of the capacity of the State to protect its citizens, saying that the question "must be thoroughly examined before putting it into practice". In fact, Bishop Martins has recalled the risk that the practice of self-defense could degenerate into more violence. "I hope that if people defend themselves, they recognize that they cannot be the aggressor and that they will only defend themselves when necessary".
The problem continues to be that of the pact between citizens and the State - the Archbishop emphasizes - "Give to Caesar what is Caesar's and to God what is God's. When people enter into a social contract with the state, there are obligations and responsibilities on both sides to find a balance. People owe the State their civic duties, while the State owes the people the services they need to maintain their trust and build a better society". (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides, 4/6/2021)