Reverend Fr. Clement Mkperaga is the Parish Priest of Holy Family Parish, Karim Lamido in the Catholic Diocese of Jalingo, Taraba state. In this interview with our Benue Correspondent, GEORGE KAJO, the man of God shares his experience in the hands of kidnappers. Excerpts..
Can you unveil yourself briefly?
I’m Reverend Fr Clement Mkperaga, a priest in the Catholic Diocese of Jalingo in Taraba state. Currently, I’m working at the Holy Family parish.
So, what is your mission in Benue state?
Well, my school mate, Mr. Samuel Adoluwa invited me to come and preside over his wedding on the 8th of June, 2021. So, when I was coming from Taraba and on reaching Zaki – Biam in Ukum local government area in Benue state and heading towards Mbatom, I saw plenty vehicles lined up on the high way with some people in military uniform. Even when I saw them, I taught it was a military check point and was driving through and some of them were showing me a way to pass through.
On driving closer, I discovered it was robbers who were collecting telephones, money and other valuables from their victims. I was removed from my car and one other person were taken into the bush which was very far away from the main road. On arriving their den, I told them that I’m a Reverend Father and asked them that, upon all the people jam packed on the road, is it only two of us that you will kidnapped? Then, their Commander asked; are you a Reverend Father? I answered yes. Then, the Commander asked his boys. Said, I sent you to go and kidnap people and not a Reverend Father. Please take him back quickly. I was led back on the same bike to the point I was kidnapped.
Which place precisely did they take you to and how many people did you see in their den?
Well, I don’t know the area because it was my first time of seen that jungle and I saw two of the Commanders there and the motorcycle rider that conveyed us to the den. They initially collected my telephones but after knowing that I’m a Reverend Father, they returned it back to me and was unhurt.
So, what is your taught about the security situation in the country?
Well, there is this saying by Baba T.Y. Danjuma that, if you can’t protect yourself in Nigeria, you are of your own. Our security situation is compromised and zero. It is the security agents that are ‘fueling crisis’ in the country. At the point I was kidnapped, there are two military check points in between. However, no single soldier came to my rescue. So, I can say that the security situation in Benue state and its environ is almost zero.
As a Reverend gentleman who found himself in ‘sinners’ den. Did you spared out time to pray for them to repent and seek salvation?
Yes, when they came and dropped me by the road side, I made a sign of the cross and said, “may God bless you in the name of the Father, and of the Holy spirit”. Recall that a thief changed his heart and repented and Jesus Christ said, ” you will be with me in paradise. So, those kidnappers if they change their old ways, they can receive salvation.
If you are in a position to advise government on security matters. What would you say?
I will recommend a serious workshops for security agents and strick monitoring on their operations. If found wanting, they should be severely sanctioned such that collection of money on road blocks must stop. Today, security agents are involved in destroying houses and receiving bribe from criminals such that in the course of their operations, they (security) agents seems not to go for rescue. See what happened at Anyiin in Logo local government area when Dr. Terkula Suswam and his aide were shot dead in a broad day light and the killers fled till date. So, government should scrutinize properly before recruiting persons into any of the security forces so as to avert cases of criminals getting into the system.