The bishops of Nigeria have urged prayer for the safety and release of a Nigerian Catholic bishop who was abducted Sunday in Owerri, the capital of Nigeria’s Imo State.
Bishop Moses Chikwe “is said to have been kidnapped in the night of Sunday 27 December 2020,” the secretary general of the Nigerian bishops’ conference has reported.
Bishop Chikwe is the auxiliary bishop of Nigeria’s Archdiocese of Owerri.
“Up to this moment, there has been no communication from the kidnappers,” Fr. Zacharia Nyantiso Samjumi said in a press release obtained by ACI Africa Dec. 28.
“Trusting in the maternal assistance of Blessed Virgin Mary, we pray for his safety and quick release,” the CSN secretary general added a press release circulated under the headline: “SAD EVENT FROM OWERRI.”
Various sources have confirmed to ACI Africa the abduction of 53-year-old Nigerian bishop, all indicating that the bishop’s whereabouts remain unknown.
“I spoke with the archbishop yesterday evening and asked him to let me know if any new thing occurs. Nothing yet,” a Catholic bishop in Nigeria told ACI Africa Dec. 29, making reference to Archbishop Anthony Obinna of Owerri archdiocese.
According to The Sun, the kidnapping occurred along Port Harcourt road in Owerri at about 8 p.m. local time.
Bishop Chikwe “was kidnapped alongside his driver in his official car,” The Sun reported, citing eyewitnesses, who added that the bishop’s vehicle “was later returned to Assumpta roundabout, while the occupants were believed to have been taken to an unknown destination.”
An anti-kidnapping police unit has begun investigating the abduction, the newspaper reported.
Bishop Chikwe’s abduction is the latest in a series of kidnappings that have targeted clergy in Nigeria, but previous abductions have involved priests and seminarians, not bishops.
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