4 Britons Kidnapped by Militants in Delta State
Four British missionaries were abducted last week Friday from their house at a remote location in Delta state.
The Delta state commissioner of police. Zanna Ibrahim, said the kidnapping might have been in response to “Operation Crocodile Smile” recently launched by Nigeria military. The police boss also said that a militant group called Karowei is the prime suspect.
Mr. Ibrahim said five suspected militant have been arrested in connection with the Britons’ kidnapping. He also alleged that the leader of the Karowei gang was responsible for last month kidnapping of a member of Delta State Assembly, Mrs Ekpongbolo Preyor who was later freed.
The identity of the missionary team is not made public at the request of British Foreign Office. Two of the missionaries who are couples, both 57, operate four clinics that gives free medical treatment and immunisations to Niger Deltans.
The British charity that the missionaries work with describes its aim as
“to train, resource and remunerate local workers, and to partner with government and other NGO’s in work that is driven and underpinned through a faith in Jesus Christ.”
Much of the humanitarian service by the missionaries is done in the riverine area – a dense swamps and creeks accessible only by boat. The British Foreign Office usually advises Britons to stay away from such place where the arm of Nigeria law could not reach and a haven for militants.
Unlike Islamic militant group in north-east Nigeria, Boko Haram, who kills her victims, the Niger Delta militants carry out kidnappings for ransom and are resolved relatively quickly.
Chief Theo Fakama, from the local Enukorowa community, said villagers were upset by the kidnapping as the missionaries had “brought succour to residents of the community for the past three years”.
While the team may have relied partly on the goodwill of the local community for protection, one Western kidnap consultant with experience of southern Nigeria said:
“I am surprised that these missionaries were there for as long as they were without an incident like this happening earlier. Around 50 per cent of all kidnappings worldwide are incidents where people have effectively sleepwalked into it.”
Mr Ibrahim, the police commissioner, said that an anti-kidnapping team was “already on the trail of the suspects”. A spokesman for the charity said it was liaising with the Foreign Office.