March 21, 2016 has come and gone, but it is a day the President of the United Church of Christ in Nigeria, Rev. Emmanuel Dziggau, will not forget in a hurry. He was kidnapped alongside two other clergy men along Kaduna-Abuja Express Way.
And unfortunately, one of them, Rev.Iliya Anto, did not live to tell the story of their abduction and ordeal in the kidnappers’ den.
Members of the Taraya Ekklesiyoyin Kristi A Nigeria (Fellowship of Churches of Christ in Nigeria, TEKAN), were thrown into confusion following the abduction of their President and other clergymen. Dziggau is also the president of Haddiyar Ekklesiya Kristi A Nigeria (United Church of Christ in Nigeria) and the TEKAN/ECWA bloc leader in the Christian Association of Nigeria.
The Reverend was kidnapped along with his deputy, Rev. Illiya Anto, and a retired reverend in the church, Yakubu Dzarma. They were at the church crusade ground along the Kaduna-Abuja highway on that fateful day to clear the proposed permanent site for the HEKAN Theological Seminary.
Suddenly, masked gunmen, numbering about 10, stormed the crusade ground and picked the three men, while other church members fled.
The General Secretary of the church and one of the eyewitnesses, Rev Jibrailu Wobiya, who escaped the abduction said, the abductors came in a car and parked by the roadside, with their driver inside the car, while others dropped, brandishing guns and other dangerous weapons.
“They came down; having suspected them, we ran, but they caught up with The President, Reverend Anto and Reverend Yakubu Dzarma. I was scared by the way and manner they dragged them, especially Rev Anto, who was ill”.
Meanwhile, the President, Reverend Emmanuel Dziggau and Rev. Yakubu Dzarma regained freedom on Wednesday night, but for Rev Anto, his already decomposing body was found in the bush.
A top official of the United Church of Christ, who pleaded anonymity, said on Thursday that Dziggau and Dzarma were freed on Wednesday in the night, while the corpse of Rev. Anto was found, almost decomposing in the bush.
But, unlike the Army Colonel Samaila Inusa, who was abducted and subsequently killed, Reverend Anto died in the bush where he was abandoned by the kidnappers following his health condition.
A reliable source from the Kaduna HEKAN Church told The Nation that, a day after the their abduction, their abductors had called to inform that Anto was not well and they had dropped him at a location in the bush. He equally disclosed that Reverend Anto was discharged from the hospital penultimate Thursday, and only managed to follow them to the church site where they were abducted on Monday.
According to him, “On Tuesday, the abductors contacted the church leadership that they had dropped Rev. Anto in the bush, because they discovered he was not feeling fine. So, they said we should come and pick him, with a strong warning that only three persons should come for him.
“But when we dispatched people to the location to carry him, they couldn’t get him after combing the area. The kidnappers, who might have been watching from their hideout, said we sent too many people to pick. So, they refused to give further description of the location and we thought they must have gone with him.
“When they couldn’t find him, they called them again and the kidnappers gave the description of the car they came with, the number of policemen in the team and the number of SSS. So, they (kidnapers) said the people sent to pick up the pastor were too many and they stopped giving description,” he said.
It was gathered that the late Reverend was abandoned in the bush because he couldn’t withstand the rigour of the excessive trekking they were subjected to.
The source said: “The freed church
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