Nigerian priest kidnapped and murdered, family still held

The Archbishop of Canterbury has expressed his sadness over the fate of a Nigerian priest abducted and murdered by kidnappers who continue to hold his family.

Anthony Idris Jata’u, a priest in the Diocese of Sokoto, was kidnapped last Thursday with his wife, three children and two sisters-in-law. His body was found on Saturday.

Anthony Jata'u
Rev Anthony Jata’u was kidnapped and murdered.

According to an anonymous source from the diocese who spoke to the Punch newspaper, the kidnappers have demanded a ransom of 10 million Nigerian Naira or £21,500 for the family’s release. The source is reported to have said: ‘Everybody is sad at the moment and afraid for the lives of his family members still in the custody of the bandits. The church doesn’t have such money but it’s hoping to raise a substantial sum to secure the release of the victims.

‘The abductors separated the kids into different locations as it was glaring [sic] when they called and asked them to speak with the person whose mobile telephone the victims gave them.

‘There is panic among worshippers as time is ticking and no one knows what their next line of action will be. Security agencies are aware of the case but there is nothing yet.’

Jata’u had survived a previous kidnapping, in 2006.

Justin Welby told the Anglican Communion News Service he was ‘deeply distressed and saddened’ by the news.

‘My prayers and those of the whole community at Lambeth Palace are with the family of the Reverend Anthony Idris Jata’u, who grieve even as they continue to be held in captivity and great danger, ‘ he said. ‘May God draw near them in comfort, and bring the freedom and justice that are so urgently needed.

‘We pray too for the church led by the Reverend Jata’u, for all those suffering persecution for their faith, and for the whole nation of Nigeria, that Jesus Christ would light the path away from violence and towards peace.’

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