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Gunmen Kidnap Catholic Priest In Anambra State

Police manhunt underway as Pope Francis expresses ‘deep concern’

By Ebere Inyama

(Onitsha) A renowned Catholic priest in the Onitsha Diocese of Anambra State located in the southeastern part of Nigeria, Reverend Father Basil Gbuzuo, has been kidnapped by yet-to-be identified gunmen.

Fr. Gbuzuo was abducted on Wednesday, May 15, 2024, around 8 am along the Eke Nkpor-Obosi bypass, near Onitsha in Anambra state.

The news of his abduction is contained in a press statement by the Catholic Archdiocese of Onitsha dated May 16, 2024 and signed by the Chancellor of the Archdiocese of Onitsha, Rev Fr Prudentius Aroh.

“With sadness, we write to inform the general public of the kidnap of one of our priests, Rev. Fr. Basil Gbuzuo. The sad incident occurred yesterday morning, Wednesday, 15’h May, 2024 along Eke Nkpor-Obosi bypass about 8am.

“He is a priest in residence at Holy Trinity Catholic Parish, Ogidi. Until now, the abductors have not established any contact with anybody.

“His Grace, Most Rev. Valerian M. Okeke, the 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 as we intensify our efforts to ensure his freedom.

“We commend our brother, Fr. Basil, to the powerful intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of Priests, for his speedy release from the hands of his kidnappers”, the statement read.

Reacting to the incident, the state Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), Tochukwu Ikenga, in a statement, said the police had launched a manhunt for the abductors of the priest.

 “Anambra Police Command has launched a manhunt for the abductors and possible rescue of Fr Basil Chukwuemeka, which sad incident occurred at Nkpor Junction, Onitsha.

“The Command is already working with some eyewitnesses to the incident in the ongoing operation

“Meanwhile, the Commissioner of Police, CP Nnaghe Obono Itam, while addressing the Catholic priests, allayed their fears and assured them that the Command would do everything to rescue the priest unhurt and arrest the abductors,” the statement read.

A Catholic residing in Onitsha, who identified herself as Miss Charity Nkemakolam told TruthNigeria that Fr. Gbuzuo is renowned for his powerful prayers and miracles in the whole of Anambra State.

“Fr. Gbuzuo is a real man of God. Through his prayers and miracles, many lives have been transformed. He has made a lasting impact on the lives of many people in Onitsha. I am optimistic that God will intervene, and he will be released unharmed, she said.

More than 21 Catholic priests abducted in Nigeria in 1 year

Map of Nigeria showing Anambra state – COURTESY : 

 Chukwuma David Umeokonkwo, Patricia Nonye Aniebue, and  Chima Onoka  Lawrence Ogbonnaya

Patients’ satisfaction with HIV and AIDS care in Anambra State, Nigeria ( A scholarly article  published by ResearchGate) 

https://www.researchgate.net/figure/Map-of-Nigeria-showing-Anambra-State-the-site-of-the-study_fig1_328544237
Map of Nigeria showing Anambra state – COURTESY: Chukwuma David Umeokonkwo, Patricia Nonye Aniebue, and Chima Onoka Lawrence Ogbonnaya Patients’ satisfaction with HIV and AIDS care in Anambra State, Nigeria ( A scholarly article published by ResearchGate) https://www.researchgate.net/figure/Map-of-Nigeria-showing-Anambra-State-the-site-of-the-study_fig1_328544237 .

A report by SB Morgen, a risk-assessment organisation, titled “The Economics of Nigeria’s Kidnap Industry 2023 Update”, released on August 24, 2023, showed that no fewer than 21 Catholic priests
were abducted in Nigeria between September 2022 and August 2023.

“Kidnappers have recognized that abducting clergymen from the Catholic Church is more
profitable than targeting an average citizen because the Church would readily release her
resources for the former,” according to the report.

A breakdown of the data showed that at least five Catholic priests were abducted in Kaduna
and three in Benue, Edo, and Anambra States.

Two were abducted in Imo and Delta States, and one each from Enugu, Ekiti, and Taraba.

Some of the recent kidnap incidents in Anambra state include the kidnap of Reverend Fr Joseph Igweagu on October 19, 2022 while he was returning to his house after celebrating a Funeral Vigil Mass in Umunachi in Njikoka Council area of Anambra state and the kidnap of Rev Fr Stanislaus Mbamara on June 4, 2023 while he was driving from Awka, the state capital, to Nnewi, where he serves

Earlier kidnappings include the abduction of Rev.Fr. Emmanuel Ugwu on August 9, 2014 along Ugwuogo-Nike-Opi road and the kidnap of the rector of Tansi Major Seminary, Rev. Fr. Dr. Emmanuel Dim along Nkpologwu/Nimbo Road Enugu State on September, 26, 2016.

Nigeria’s Catholic Secretariat Raises Concerns Over Insecurity, Corruption

The Catholic Secretariat of Nigeria (CSN) has expressed concern over the security challenges in the country with a call on the Federal Government to tackle the security challenges facing the country.

Speaking during an interactive session with journalists in Abuja last February, the Secretary-General of the CSN, Rev. Fr. Zacharia Samjumi, represented by his Deputy, Fr. Michael Banjo, called on the federal government of Nigeria to sit up to its responsibilities in the fight against insecurity in the national interest.

“While we are not allowed to go into the field to provide the necessary military power to secure the nation, we appeal to the consciences of government officials when we meet with them.

“We appeal to the government to fulfill its primary duties of securing lives and properties,”  Samjumi said.

Pope Francis Expresses Deep Concern Over Kidnappings in Nigeria

The Head of the Catholic Church, Pope Francishas expressed worry over the incessant kidnappings in Nigeria, describing it as “extremely concerning”.

In his handle on Sunday, Feb. 25, 2024, Pope Francis said he was praying in solidarity with the Nigeria in hopes that the menace will be curtailed.

The Vatican wrote:

“The increasingly frequent kidnappings in Nigeria are extremely concerning.

“I express my closeness in prayer to the Nigerian people, hoping that efforts will be made to contain the spread of these incidents as much as possible,” the Pope wrote.

Ebere Inyama reports on crime for TruthNigeria

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