AFTER a lull, bad news is once again coming from the creeks of the Niger Delta. Just as some militant groups served notice of their intention to resume the destruction of pipelines and other facilities in the oil-rich region, the sad news came of the death of a British missionary, Mr Ian Squire, in the hands of his kidnappers.
The 56 year-old Mr Squire, an optician, was one of four charity workers of the New Foundation on a medical mission to train local people to carry out tests and give out prescription glasses. Squire had reportedly developed a solar-powered technology to produce lenses for deployment in areas where there is no electricity. The New Foundation missionaries were in Enekorogha, a community in the creeks of Burutu Local Government Area of Delta State, when they were kidnapped on October 13, 2017.
Mr Squire died while the authorities were negotiating for release of the four abducted missionaries which also included Dr David Donovan, founder of the New Foundation; his wife, Shirley, and Alanna Carson, an optometrist. It was not until Squire died that the rest of the kidnapped victims were suddenly released to the authorities.
It is very shocking that a group of expatriates who left their country and comfort zone to come and help poor villagers with eye problems in a remote creek community could be so callously abducted and kept in the den of criminals until one of them lost his life. That Squire met a fate that once faced many ancient Christian missionaries portrayed us as a country still wallowing in darkness.
This is more so as the New Foundation had successfully conducted its charity work in other African countries such as Burundi, Ghana, Kenya, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Uganda without any ugly incidents.
This was purely a criminal act for which there can be no excuse. We urge the Federal and Delta governments to leave no stone unturned to unravel the circumstances surrounding the death of the missionary and ensure that all the culprits behind this dastardly crime are brought to justice.
We are dismayed that the umbrella interest group in the region – the Pan Niger Delta Forum, PANDEF and the Federal Government are yet to issue public statements on the issue to, at least, convey our collective shock and abhorrence of this unfortunate development and condemn the resurgence of expatriates’ kidnaps for ransom in the Niger Delta.
We convey our heartfelt condolences to the family of Ian Squire and urge them to bear in mind that Nigerians will never forget the saintly labours their son rendered to our people only to fall victim to heartless criminals. We hope the family will be adequately compensated.