According to Matthew Kukah, the Catholic Bishop of Sokoto Diocese, his nephew and the driver who were abducted more than three months ago are still being held captive.
He disclosed this at the ongoing high-level forum on political communication and issue-based campaign in the 2023 general elections in Abuja, where he spoke on the need for Nigerians to desist from politics of identity.
Kukah stated the incident happened along the Kaduna-Abuja road about three months ago, adding that his nephew and his wife were coming to Abuja to get medical care when they were kidnapped.
The bishop revealed that the kidnappers, however, did not kidnap his nephew’s wife because of her condition, but abducted his nephew and the driver who was bringing them to Abuja.
He also disclosed that the captors had requested N50 million, but later reduced it to N20 million, stressing that so far, he has had to spend over N30 million to secure the release of some priests working under him who were also kidnapped.
The event which was organized by the National Institute for Legislative and Democratic Studies, with the collaboration of The Kukah Centre, was organized to prepare the politicians ahead of the election campaigns.
According to him, Nigerians should not queue behind those displaying themselves as messiah, but rather vote for political leaders who truly understand the situation.
The revered cleric noted that campaigns henceforth must be identity-based, getting the right identity for the country and not emphasizing the things that really do matter.
Kukah said, “When we talk about the 2023 elections, we need to talk about how we will get ourselves out of all of these.
“The questions that the ordinary Nigerians are asking are legitimate and it is the responsibility of those who govern to deal frontally with the issue. We need to re-image and re-imagine Nigeria because the Nigeria that we have today is not the Nigeria that many of us can recognize.
“Before coming here, I was speaking with my brother, because two days ago, my nephew, his mother, and the driver were on their way to Abuja when they ran into the hands of kidnappers. My brother’s wife had an amputation some three months ago and they were bringing her to Abuja, so when the kidnappers saw the stomp on her leg, they had mercy on her and let her go.
“Right now, as we speak, my nephew and the driver of the vehicle are currently in the hands of the kidnappers, how is it going to end? I don’t know. Then they said they wanted N50m, they then said they wanted N20m, now they are staying on N30m.”
Speaking about the payment of ransom totalling N30 million to rescue the priests in his diocese from the hands of kidnappers, Kukah said he was not ashamed to share the information.
He added, “I am the Bishop of Sokoto Diocese, I have spent about N30m the money I don’t have because my priests were kidnapped and I have nowhere to turn to.
“I am not ashamed to say it because these are essential realities. Anyone who wants to become president of Nigeria cannot pretend to stand before me without giving me empirical evidence from his or her record about how they intend to deal with these issues because there is a collective feeling of alienation.
“Here in Abuja, just about a month or so ago, when the threats came that the bandits would enter Abuja, everybody went undercover.”
Kukah also advised politicians to develop the skill to manage diversity that will make every citizen be relevant.
He added, “I want to commend the National Assembly for what the action it has taken and the speed with which the Electoral Acts was passed.
“But that’s just the beginning, but there’s a challenge to convince Nigerians that they are voting and electing and choosing their leaders. There’s a crippling fear and the people do not really believe that the laws are changing.”
The Bishop added, “I have always tried to explain to young people that a wedding is not a marriage; marriage starts after the wedding. What that means in essence is that a campaign is not an election and an election is not good governance.
“There is always a difference between a person who is campaigning and when they become a president, governors, senators, and the rest.
“A campaigner seeks to capture the attention, so he can do everything he has to do to get your trust.
“I tell people that it’s not like politicians are bad people, as those who have won elections will tell you, what they were seeing outside is usually different from when they get in.”
Bishop Kukah who turned 70 in August, 2022, has been in the news for speaking truth to power.
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