AFRICA/NIGERIA - The Catholic Archdiocese of Owerri, Imo state has dismissed the reported death of Moses Chikwe

Wednesday, 30 December 2020 kidnappings   bishops  

Abuja (Agenzia Fides) - The news reported by some press organs on the discovery of the body of His Exc. Mgr. Moses Chikwe, Auxiliary Bishop of Owerri, in the State of Imo, kidnapped on the evening of December 27, is misleading (see Fides, 29/12/2020). This was stated in an official note from the Nigerian Archdiocese.
"His Grace, Most Rev Anthony J. V. Obinna, Archbishop of Owerri, hereby requests all Christ’s faithful and people of goodwill at large to disregard the purported news feed on the killing of the Auxiliary Bishop of Owerri Archdiocese, Most Rev. Moses Chikwe", reads the statement sent to Agenzia Fides, which adds: "This information is unconfirmed, misleading and does not come from the Catholic Archdiocese of Owerri". "We continue to appeal that all join the Archbishop in prayers for the release of Bishop Chikwe and Mr. Nduduisi Robert, his driver". "Unconfirmed rumors about the discovery of Archbishop Chikwe's body had already spread yesterday evening," said Fr Patrick Alumuku, Director of Communications of the Archdiocese of Abuja and Director of Catholic Television of Nigeria, to Fides.
"We are very worried because the kidnapping of Mgr. Moses Chikwe is unusual compared to other cases that have also occurred recently", said the priest. "The kidnapping took place very close to the Bishop's house, while he was returning from a mass in a parish", explains Fr. Alumuku. "There are also signs of violence, because shots were fired inside the car, but there are no traces of blood. What is also strange is the fact that the Bishop's car was brought back. In addition, the kidnappers left the sacred vestments which were found inside the car". "So far no ransom request has been made".
"99 percent of kidnappings for extortion purposes are committed by Fulani pastors, but it is really unusual that they had the courage to carry out a kidnapping in a city like that of Oweri, in south-east Nigeria, with a Christian majority", comments Fr. Alumuku. "The only precedent happened in Abuja a month ago, when Fr. Matthew Dajo was attacked and kidnapped by armed men on Sunday 22 November at his home in St. Anthony parish, in Yangoji, Abuja (see Fides, 3/12/2020)". (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides, 30/12/2020)