Bishop Julius Agbortoko is now free, the diocese announced in a press release on Wednesday, September 1, 2021.
Captured by armed men last Sunday, Bishop Julius Agbortoko is free. His release was announced today in a statement from the Diocese of Mamfé which states that no ransom has been paid for his release. He was kidnapped by suspected English-speaking separatists on his way back from a stay in the nearby town of Kokobuma, where he had attended the inauguration of a new rectory.
According to a statement issued by the diocese after his kidnapping, young armed men entered the seminary. They presented themselves as “separatist fighters” and first took over the home of the archbishop of the diocese, Bishop Lysinge. But the intruders changed their minds, meeting Bishop Agbortoko, whom they deemed younger and better off than his elder, and decided to kidnap him in place of the archbishop.
According to the diocese of Mamfé, the kidnappers demanded a ransom of 20 million FCFA. Since the onset of the separatist crisis, the rebels have developed a veritable kidnapping industry, which usually results in freedoms for ransom, and for which religious figures often bear the brunt. Last June, the Catholic Church of Cameroon appealed to all parties to the conflict to end the “harassment of priests and missionaries“. That month, six priests were kidnapped and one church attacked.