AFRICA/NIGERIA - Priest from Onitsha diocese kidnapped

Friday, 17 May 2024 kidnappings   priests  

Abuja (Agenzia Fides) - "With sadness, we write to inform of the kidnap of one of our priests, Rev. Fr. Basil Gbuzuo". This is how the diocese of Onitsha, in a press release dated May 16 and signed by its Chancellor, Father Prudentius E. Aroh, announced the kidnapping of Father Basil Gbuzuo. Onitsha is located in Anambra State, south-central Nigeria. "The sad incident occurred on Wednesday, May 15, along Eke Nkpor-Obosi bypass, about 8am. Father Gbuzuo is a resident priest at Holy Trinity Parish, Ogidi. Until now, the abductors have not established any contact with anyone", the statement said.
The statement added that Archbishop Valerian Okeke, Metropolitan Archbishop of Onitsha, invites all Christ’s faithful and all men and women of goodwill to earnestly pray for the quick and safe release of the priest. The Archdiocese is also intensifying its efforts to ensure the freedom of Fr. Gbuzuo, and commends the priest to the "powerful intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of Priests, for his speedy release from the hands of his kidnappers". A state police spokesman said a search had been launched to find the priest and his captors. “The Anambra Police Command has launched a hunt for the kidnappers to find Father Basil Chukwuemeka safe and sound,” the police statement said, adding that some eyewitnesses to the kidnapping have been questioned in order to gather information to quickly resolve the kidnapping. Father Gbuzuo is only the latest in a long list of priests, religious men and women kidnapped in Nigeria. In February, Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, Pro-Prefect of the Section for the First Evangelization and the New Particular Churches of the Dicastery for Evangelization, and the Secretary of the same Dicastery, Nigerian Archbishop Fortunatus Nwachukwu, expressed the solidarity of Dicastery with the Nigerian Church and people in the face of the “out of control” phenomenon of kidnappings in Nigeria (see Fides, 16/2/2024). The scourge of kidnappings for extortion purposes is a widespread phenomenon throughout Nigeria, including mass kidnappings, especially of students. (see Fides, 14/5/2024). (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides, 17/5/2024)