Another priest has been kidnapped in Nigeria: Fr. Harrison Egwuenu, dean of St. George’s College in Obinomba, was kidnapped around 8 p.m. local time on March 15 in Abraka, in the local government area of Ethiope East, Delta State, in the south of the country, reported Fides News Agency,
According to local sources, the kidnappers fired in the air to frighten passers-by and took the priest from his car, leaving it on the road. A witness claims to have picked up about fifteen Kalashnikov shells at the scene of the kidnapping.
Fr. Benedict Okutegbe, Administrator of the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart of the diocese of Warri, confirming the kidnapping of Fr. Egwuenu asked for prayers for the rapid release of the priest, described as a “hardworking and devoted to mission”.
Kidnappings for the purpose of extortion, often along main roads, are increasingly frequent in Nigeria, as are the mass kidnappings of students in some areas of the Federation. Among the victims, there are also several priests, men, and women religious, despite the provision issued several years ago by the Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria to avoid paying ransoms.
The insecurity caused by criminal gangs, by the raids of Fulani shepherds, and by the terrorists – sometimes divided into competing factions – risks causing the explosion of the Nigerian Federation, warned the Bishops.
Faced with the serious shortcomings of state institutions, first of all, their inability to guarantee security for all, “Nigeria risks being torn to pieces” affirm the Bishops of Nigeria, who specify that they have launched “this alarm on the basis of a deep patriotic love for our nation and not on the basis of sectoral interests, be they political, ethnic or even religious”.
“The clamor for self-defense is fast gaining ground. Many ethnic champions are loudly beating the drums of war, calling not only for greater autonomy but even for outright opting out of a nation in which they have lost all trust and sense of belonging. The calls for secession on an ethnic basis from many quarters should not be ignored or taken lightly”, warn the Bishops in a statement signed by His Exc. Mgr. Augustine Obiora Akubeze, Archbishop of Benin City and President of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria (CBCN), and by His Exc. Mgr. Camillus Raymond Umoh, Bishop of Ikot Ekpene and Secretary of the CBCN.