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 CNS Story:

NIGERIA-KIDNAP Jul-16-2010 (290 words) xxxi

Nigerian bishop: Kidnappings could affect credibility of 2011 elections

By Peter Ajayi Dada
Catholic News Service

LAGOS, Nigeria (CNS) -- Bishop Emmanuel Badejo of Oyo has warned the Nigerian government that kidnappings across the country could affect the credibility of the 2011 elections.

Bishop Badejo, who for years served as the Nigerian bishops' social communications secretary, spoke July 16, less than a week after four journalists and their driver were kidnapped in southeastern Nigeria's Abia state.

"For us in Nigeria, the new trend of kidnapping journalists has serious implications for the nation as we move toward the all-important national elections," the bishop said.

"If the watchdog is gagged, threatened or intimidated -- as kidnapping of journalists is bound to do if unchecked -- it will bring great jeopardy to their sacred task of monitoring truth, justice and fair play during the exercise," he said.

Journalists occupy a key position in the development and sustenance of democracy, he said.

He also expressed concern that officials from the Nigerian Union of Journalists were openly negotiating with kidnappers, calling it a "sorry indictment of the confidence level of the public in the Nigerian security agencies."

"The police are now said to be monitoring NUJ officials to prevent them from paying the kidnappers, a funny distraction from the urgent task of getting the kidnappers and bringing them to book," he said.

The journalists were kidnapped after attending an executive session of the National Union of Journalists. Kidnappings in the oil-rich state are common, but this is the first time journalists have been targeted.

"Our security agencies must improve on their intelligence machinery in order to prevent similar occurrences," Bishop Badejo said. "They must fish out the perpetrators of this evil which is further eroding Nigeria's credibility as a free nation ... and quickly bring to an end the current debacle."


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