Nigeria: Catholic Priests abducted in Edo, Kaduna
By Fr. Benedict Mayaki, SJ
Two Catholic priests were kidnapped over the weekend in Edo State, in the latest instance of abductions of members of the clergy in Nigeria, where authorities have had a long-running battle with insecurity.
According to reports, gunmen kidnapped Fr. Peter Udo of St Patrick’s Catholic Church Uromi, in Esan North East, and Fr. Philemon Oboh of St Joseph Retreat Center, Ugboha, in Esan South East local government area on Saturday, after attacking the car they were in along the Benin-Ekpoma expressway.
It was reported that the priests had attended a programme in Benin and were on their way back to Uromi when the incident occurred.
This latest abduction comes barely a week after another Catholic Priest, Fr. Christopher Odia, was kidnapped and killed by his abductors in the same state.
Search for the abducted priests
Confirming the report of the kidnapping, a spokesperson for the Edo State Police Command said that “the Divisional Police Officer in charge of Ugboha police Division has called to inform that one Rev Father Amos Abhulimen on Saturday came to the station to report the kidnap of the two Rev Fathers.”
“Based on the report,” said the spokesperson, “the state Commissioner of Police Abutu Yaro, has dispatched a team of policemen as a reinforcement to the men of Ugboha division to go for the rescue of the two Catholic Priests unhurt and get the kidnappers arrested.”
Another priest kidnapped in Kafanchan
In another similar development, the diocese of Kafanchan announced the kidnap of Fr. Emmanuel Silas, who was seized in the early hours of Monday.
A statement signed by Fr. Emmanuel Uchechukwu Okolo, the Kafanchan diocese Chancellor, said “it is with great pain that we announce to you the kidnapping of our priest, Rev. Fr. Emmauel Silas. The sad event is believed to have occurred in the early hours of July 4, 2022, when he could not turn up for morning Mass.”
According to the statement, Fr. Silas was abducted from the parish rectory at St. Charles Catholic Church, Zambina, in Kauru Local Government Area of Kaduna State.
The Chancellor called for the prayers for the “quick and safe release” of Fr. Silas, and assured that the diocese would use every legitimate means to ensure the release of the priest.
“May Jesus crucified on the Cross listen to our prayers and hasten the unconditional release of His Priest and all other kidnapped persons,” said the statement.