A Jos-based pastor, Bitrus Albarka, who was arrested for allegedly staging his own kidnap, has told the police that he did it because he needed the ransom to settle his financial challenges.
The Plateau State Police Command said its investigation revealed that Mr Albarka, a pastor of ECWA Church, conspired with his gang and collected ransoms meant for his release.
During a parade at the police headquarters on Thursday, the pastor said he regretted his action.
“I put myself into these activities because of the financial challenges I am facing with. When I did the first one, I felt guilty. When I went out, the money with me has finished. I was thinking of coming back. I was just confused. That is why I did the second one. I am regretting my action,” he said.
The pastor who also allegedly burnt a vehicle owned by a senior pastor of the church said he didn’t know what came over him.
“I burnt the vehicle because I was guilty of what I did. I was just confused. I don’t even know what came over me. Being a pastor, that is why the spirit of God didn’t allow me to go without confessing my action. I am sorry for what I have done. I am really sorry.
In a statement, the police claimed that the pastor collected the sum of N400,000 on 14 November 2022, and on 30 November of the same year, he staged another kidnap of himself and collected the sum of 200,000 from members of his church.
“Sequel to his spurious kidnaps of 14/11/2022 and 30/11/2022 where the sum of Four Hundred Thousand Naira (N400,000) and Two Hundred Thousand Naira ( N200,000) was respectively paid by his sympathizers as a ransom for his release, the incidents triggered suspicion.
“Through credible intelligence, the clergyman was invited by the DPO Nassarawa Gwong Police Station, CSP Musa Hassan and investigation commenced immediately. In the course of investigation, it was established that the suspect has been conspiring with his gang to stage his kidnap and fraudulently collect the ransom.
“On interrogation, the suspect confessed to have committed the crime and mentioned the following persons as his accomplices : (1) Baruk Mailale, (2) Nathaniel Bitrus both males of Yelwan Zangam village of Jos-north and (3) Aye (surname yet to be known) ‘male of Jalingo, Taraba State.
“The suspect further disclosed that on 04/01/2023, he set ablaze two motor vehicles ( a Mercedes Benz and a Toyota) and a bicycle parked at ECWA Bishara 3 Jenta Apata premises belonging to his colleagues who he alleged one of them hates him, referring to his senior pastor, ” the statement read.
Meanwhile, police said operatives of Nassarawa Gwong Division, Jos-north LGA arrested two other suspects involved in the staged abduction – Baruk Mailale and Nathaniel Bitrus – while effort is being intensified to arrest Aye, the third suspect.
The command informed members of the public to be watchful and report any suspicious happenings around them or within their area on time, as this will greatly help in arresting criminals thereby, reducing crime and criminality in the state.