Alexander Okere, Benin
An Italian priest of the Catholic Church, Maurizio Pallu, who was kidnapped by gunmen in Edo State has been released.
It was gathered that Pallu regained his freedom at about 4 am on Wednesday, after spending five days in the kidnappers’ den.
It was also learnt that he flew out of the country shortly after he was released
The Police Public Relations Officer, Mr. Moses Nkombe, could not be reached for comments and had yet to respond to a text message sent to him as at the time of filing the report.
But the Catholic Bishop of Kaduna Diocese, Ndagoso Manoso, confirmed the release to our correspondent on Thursday.
Manoso also said that the Italian Government had been informed about the development.
“I spoke with him but I have not asked him about the location. But he has been flown out of the country.
“So, I am yet to be fully briefed; those who were with him will brief me later on. He was in high spirit and that is all I can say,” he added.
The 63-year-old priest had on October 12 been abducted by armed men in Benin, the state capital.
He was said to be travelling to Benin in the company of some members of his community in Kaduna when he and two others were whisked away by the abductors.
The gunmen were reported to have robbed the travellers before taking their victims away to a forest in an unknown location.
They were also said to have demanded an undisclosed amount as ransom.
Manoso, however, dismissed the possibility of a financial negotiation before the priest was set free.
He explained, “It is the policy of the Catholic Bishops Conference (of Nigeria) not to pay ransom. It is because ransoms are paid that the business (kidnapping) is becoming lucrative. So, I am not aware of any ransom paid before he (Pallu) was released.”
There had been growing concerns over the high level of insecurity in the state, with several cases of armed robbery, kidnapping and gruesome killings recorded in the last few months.
There had also been calls for stronger collaboration between the state government and security agencies, including strengthening local vigilance.
But Manoso stressed the need for the Federal Government to invest in security and technology in order to tackle sophisticated crime.
“There is no Nigerian anywhere who is happy with the security situation in the country now. I mean, no one is safe. I think it is a lot of concern for every Nigerian because without security, (there would be) no investment.
“So, I think this is something the government needs to consider more than it is doing now, though it is trying its best. But I think, giving the available technology around the world, this thing (crime) can be curbed, if our government takes it as a priority,” the Kaduna bishop stated.
He added, “People are afraid now to travel. To venture into Abuja from Kaduna, people carry their lives in their hands. Therefore, I think it is a matter of concern that needs to be addressed. Technology is such a wonderful thing for those who have invested in it.
“Even under the ground, you can be located. Everyone is his number one security officer; the first thing is to protect yourself. I think the primary duty of a government is to protect its citizenry.”