Anglican bishop kidnapped in Nigeria


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Benin City, Nigeria, Jan 26, 2010 / 01:04 am (CNA).- The Anglican Bishop of the Benin Diocese in Nigeria was kidnapped on January 24 after celebrating Sunday mass at the Benin City cathedral.

According to the Missionary International Service News Agency (MISNA), Bishop Peter Imasuen, was abducted outside of his home by "unknown gunmen." He had only just returned from the Cathedral of St. Matthew in Benin City, capital of Nigeria's Edo state, where he had celebrated the Anglican mass.

The Nigerian Tribune reported on Monday that Bishop Imasuen was "trailed" all the way to his residence, called the "Bishop's Court," where the suspected gunmen managed to lock the gatekeeper in his security outpost and force their way into complex. They pulled the prelate from his car and took him away.

MISNA explained that the bishop's abduction comes just days after the local governor's request to withdraw soldiers and special forces from the streets. The servicemen were initially put in place to curb the city's attacks and abductions. The bishop is reportedly the first incident of kidnapping since then.

The Tribune added that the ransom being demanded is 50 million Nigerian naira, which is the equivalent of over $330,000 in U.S. dollars.

In addition to his post as the head of the Archdiocese of Benin, Bishop Imasuen is also the chairman of the Christian Association of Nigeria which claims on its website to be "the largest ecumenical body ever established in Nigeria and, indeed, Africa."

Representatives from the Anglican Church of Benin City were unavailable for comment.