Catholic Bishop kidnapped
Bishop Moses Chikwe, Auxiliary Bishop of Nigeria’s Archdiocese of Owerri kidnapped by unknown gunmen Sunday, December 27.
The Nigerian Catholic Bishops have asked Christians all over Nigeria to pray for safety and release of a Nigerian Catholic bishop who was abducted Sunday in Owerri, the capital of Nigeria’s Imo State.
Ejes Gist Media reports that Unknown gunmen have kidnapped the Auxiliary Bishop of the Catholic Archdiocese of Owerri, Rt. Rev. Moses Chikwe.
Ejes Gist Media understand that Bishop Chikwe was forcefully abducted alongside his driver on Monday in Owerri, Imo State capital.
It was learned that the kidnappers whisked the victims away in the Bishop’s official vehicle.
A reliable source said the Catholic Bishop’s vehicle was later discovered at the front of Archdiocese house hours after the abduction.
The Imo State Police Command has confirmed the incident and has set up a rescue team to save the Bishop.
According to the Police spokesperson, Orlando Ikeokwu, the State Commissioner of Police has ordered the personnel of anti-kidnapping and Quick Intervention Units to tracked down the Kidnappers.
Ikeokwu Affirmed the command will ensure that the victims are safely rescued.
Up to this moment, there has been no communication from the kidnappers,” Fr. Zacharia Nyantiso Samjumi said in a press release obtained by ACI Africa Dec. 28.
Bishop Chikwe’s abduction is the latest in a series of kidnappings that have targeted clergy in Nigeria, but previous abductions have involved priests and seminarians, not bishops.
On Dec. 15, Fr. Valentine Oluchukwu Ezeagu, a member of the Sons of Mary Mother of Mercy (SMMM) was kidnapped in Imo State en route to his father’s funeral in the neighboring Anambra State, in southeastern Nigeria. He was “unconditionally released” the following day.
Last month, Fr. Matthew Dajo, a Nigerian priest of the Archdiocese of Abuja, was kidnapped and released after ten days in captivity. Multiple sources in Nigeria told ACI Africa about negotiations for ransom following Fr. Dajo’s Nov. 22 kidnapping, some sources indicating abductors’ demand for hundreds of thousands of U.S. dollars.
Earlier this month, the U.S. State Department listed Nigeria among the worst countries for religious freedom, describing the West African nation as a “country of particular concern (CPC).” This is a formal designation reserved for nations where the worst violations of religious freedom are taking place, the other countries being China, North Korea, and Saudi Arabia.
The action by the U.S. State Department was lauded by the leadership of Knights of Columbus, with the Supreme Knight of the Knights of Columbus, Carl Anderson saying December 16, “Nigeria’s Christians have suffered grievously at the hands of Boko Haram and other groups.”
The murders and kidnappings of Christians in Nigeria now “verge on genocide,” Anderson added December 16.
“The Christians of Nigeria, both Catholic and Protestant, deserve attention, recognition and relief now,” Anderson further said, adding, “Nigeria’s Christians should be able to live in peace and practice their faith without fear.”
According to a special report released by the International Society for Civil Liberties and Rule of Law (Intersociety) in March, “no fewer than 20 clergymen including at least eight Catholic Priests/Seminarians were hacked to death in the past 57 months and not less than 50 abducted or kidnapped.”
Catholic bishops in Nigeria, which is Africa’s most populous nation, have repeatedly called on Muhammadu Buhari-led government to put in place strict measures to protect her citizens.
“It is just unimaginable and inconceivable to celebrate Nigeria at 60 when our roads are not safe; our people are kidnapped, and they sell their properties to pay ransom to criminals,” members of CBCN said in a collective statement on October 1.
# Gunmen kidnap Catholic Bishop # Catholic Bishop kidnapped
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