The Bishop of the Lagos Central Diocese of the African Church, Rt. Rev. Gabriel Adebanjo, along with his wife, Dorcas, are still being held by kidnappers in Delta State, five days after they were abducted during a visit to Warri.
Gbeborun learnt that the kidnappers, who initially made contact with the church to demand the sum of N100m have so far reduced their demand to N50m as the church continues to press for further reduction in the ransom. On Thursday, our correspondent learnt that the ransom had been further reduced to N20m.
Church officials told our correspondent that the bishop and his wife had gone to Delta State on Saturday, December 5, to attend an adult harvest programme, which was supposed to hold the following day, but they never made it to their destination.
The bishop’s driver was said to have been shot in the process, sustaining serious gunshot injuries to his hand and leg.
The church’s spokesperson, Chief Femi Adetona, told our correspondent that the driver had been stabilised and that the bullets had been removed.
Asked whether the church has had the opportunity to speak with the bishop as proof that he is alive, Adetona said, “We are still negotiating. They did not give us opportunity to speak with the bishop. We have mandated our members at Warri to continue the negotiation with them since they would understand their language better. But they give us regular updates as things unfold.”
Gbeborun learnt that on Saturday when the bishop took off from Lagos, he would have gone by flight but had to go to Ijebu-Ode, Ogun State, to pick his wife where she works and they decided to go by road.
Adetona said that information they gathered from the driver was that when they got to Effurum Junction, a fire outbreak at a pipeline that had just been vandalised necessitated the diversion of traffic.
“They had to take another route. On their way, they stopped over at a party organised by a member of the House of Representatives. They had just left the gathering when they were kidnapped and the driver was shot in the hand and leg,” he said.
The kidnappers were said to have cornered the couple’s car along Adagbarasa Road as they were approaching Eku Osubi Road. While shooting sporadically in the air, they took control of the bishop’s official car, a Toyota Avensis, and sped off with the couple in it.
Gbeborun learnt that the vehicle was later abandoned many kilometres away after the kidnappers transferred them into another vehicle.
Church officials say they believe the bishop was a target of opportunity for the kidnappers, who might have had an informant at the gathering to tell them that someone important was in attendance.
Bishop Adebanjo, a native of Ijebu-Mushin, Ogun State, was said to have been transferred to the Lagos Central Diocese about three months ago from the Ikot Ekpene diocese which he was previously heading.
The police spokesperson in the state, Mrs. Celestina Kalu, said the police are collaborating with local vigilantes to mount a search in the area where the bishop and his wife were taken.
She said as soon as there was any development on the case, the police would take appropriate steps.