AFRICA/NIGERIA - Father Basil Gbuzuo kidnapped on May 15 has been freed

Monday, 27 May 2024 kidnappings   priests  

Abuja (Agenzia Fides) - "With a heart full of joy and gratitude to God, we announce the release of Father Basil Gbuzuo," says a statement from the Diocese of Onitsha on the release of Father Basil Gbuzuo, who was kidnapped on 15th May 2024 along Nkpor-Obosi axis (see Fides, 17/5/2024).
According to reports from the diocese, the priest was "abandoned by his captors around midnight on May 23 at a location near Ufuma". Father Gbuzuo was welcomed by Father Alex Ezema, parish priest of the Holy Cross Church in Ufuma, to whom the priest had turned after his liberation.
Msgr. Valerian Okeke, Metropolitan Archbishop of Onitsha, thanked those who prayed for the release of Father Gbuzuo and addressed words of gratitude to the authorities of Anambra State.
The Press Secretary to Anambra State Governor, Christian Aburime, said that Fr. Basil Gbuzuo regained his freedom “thanks to the dedicated efforts of the joint security team of the Anambra State Government and well-meaning citizens.” “The State Government will not rest on its oars, as we work to ensure that any person held in captivity is released unconditionally and unhurt,” he added. The government spokesman then warned the criminal gangs: "We also seize this opportunity to send a strong warning to all criminals, their collaborators and sponsors. The full weight of the law will be brought on all such persons who engage directly or indirectly in orchestrating criminal activities. However, note that the olive branch offer extended to criminal elements who operate in the mould of agitators is still open. They should avail themselves of avenues provided by the State for them to be trained, rehabilitated and integrated back into the society". Meanwhile, the second priest kidnapped in Nigeria in May, Father Oliver Buba from the diocese of Yola, Adamawa state (see Fides, 22/5/2024), remains in the hands of the kidnappers. (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides, 27/5/2024)