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Tuesday, 23 January 2018

We’ve forgiven our abductors, Catholic reverend sisters say.

 
The six Catholic sisters from the Eucharistic Heart of Jesus Convent in Edo State, who regained freedom after 53 days in captivity, on Monday said they had forgiven their abductors.

The sisters spoke at a thanksgiving mass at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Benin, Edo State, to celebrate their freedom.

Gunmen had on November 13, 2017, stormed the convent in Iguoriakhi, Ovia South-West Local Government Area of the state, and three of the reverend sisters – Aloysius Ajayi, Frances Udi and Roselyn Isiocha – and three other females were taken away in a speedboat.

The abductors had reportedly demanded a ransom of N50m for the release of the victims but later reduced the amount to N20m.

But the victims were rescued on January 7, 2018.

One of the victims, Isiocha, who spoke on behalf of her colleagues, said although their experience with the gunmen was horrific, it increased their faith in God.

She said, “For everything that may have happened, we continue to thank the good Lord for what he has done for us and what he will continue to do in our lives.

“It was not a good experience, but in everything, we thank God. It has increased our faith and trust in God. With this experience, we can now help others to trust in God more.

“We have forgiven them. Even as we were there (in captivity), we kept praying for them, for their conversion.

“Many thoughts came, but we strongly believed that God was in control. They (kidnappers) were conversing with our people, but we did not know what was going on.” 

The Superior-General of the convent, Sister Agatha Osarekhoe, expressed gratitude to God and  commended the leaders of the church, the state government and security agencies for their support.

Osarekhoe, who described the abduction as unimaginable, however, said it was a test of faith.

Also speaking at the ceremony, the state Governor, Godwin Obaseki, who was represented by the Deputy Governor, Mr. Philip Shaibu, said, “We thank God that we have a Commissioner of Police that is concerned. With what we are working on, I can tell you that Edo State will be safer than it is now.

“Working with the security chiefs and the programmes on creating wealth, I can assure you that incidents like this, if not completely eradicated, will be minimised.”

The state Commissioner of Police, Mr. Johnson Kokumo, told journalists that the release of the sisters had provided an opportunity for the police to improve their operation on the waterways.

He said, “From their release, we have learnt some lessons; lessons on how to be more proactive in the future and fight hoodlums on our waterways, because after they had kidnapped the sisters, the abductors went through the waterways. We have identified the porosity of our waterways. This, of course, we have improved upon. The new security architecture embraces adequate security on our waterways, with adequate gunboats patrol all the time.”
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