The family of Father Anthony Idris Jata’u, who were kidnapped in an incident in which he was killed, have been released, the Diocese of Sokoto has confirmed. The Children were released on 24 February – the day that the Anglican Church of Nigeria celebrated its 40th anniversary. Negotiations continued for the release of Father Anthony’s wife, and and it has now been confirmed that she, too, has been released.
The kidnappers had demanded a ransom of ₦10 million Nigerian Naira (approximately £21,500 GBP) for the release of his family. The Diocese of Sokoto has said that no ransom was paid for the family’s release.
“We thank all who have been a shoulder of support to us in our predicament”, the Diocese said in a Facebook post after the release of the children. “We solicit your prayers as we expect God’s intervention.”
Confirming the release of “Mummy Jata’u”, as she is known, the Diocese said: “God, in His infinite mercy, brought our brethren back undefiled!”
As she was released, Mummy Jata’u pleaded with the kidnappers for the release of a 10-year-old orphaned girl who was also being held. In its Facebook post, the diocese said that “the request was granted”.
It has emerged that the kidnappers had threatened to rape one of their captives at gunpoint; but did not carry out their threat.
The family were taken on Thursday 7 February. Father Anthony was driving his family to a new posting in Katsina State when gunman opened fire on their car, forcing it to skid off the road. He was killed and his body left at the side of the road. His wife, three children and two sisters-in-law were kidnapped.
Kidnapping is a regular occurrence in Nigeria, part of an ongoing cycle of violence in the region.