Nigerian Prelate Appeals for Renewed Prayers for Abducted Bishop amid “misleading” Reports

Bishop Moses Chikwe, Auxiliary Bishop of Nigeria’s Archdiocese of Owerri kidnapped by unknown gunmen Sunday, December 27.

The Archbishop of Nigeria’s Owerri Archdiocese is appealing for renewed prayers for the safety and freedom of his Auxiliary Bishop and the driver who were abducted Sunday, December 27 amid misleading information about the duo.

“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 by one Useni Yusuf at AI Press on the killing of the Auxiliary Bishop of Owerri Archdiocese, Most Rev. Moses Chikwe,” the Assistant Secretary of Owerri Archdiocese, Fr. Nnaemeka Njezi has said in a press release shared with ACI Africa.

In the statement dated Tuesday, December 29 titled “Disclaimer on Bishop Moses Chikwe,” the leadership of the Archdiocese where the abducted Bishop serves says information about the killing of Bishop Chikwe “is unconfirmed, misleading and does not come from the Catholic Archdioceie of Owerri.”

“We continue to appeal that all join the Archbishop in prayers for the release of Bishop Chikwe and Mr. Ndubuisi Robert, his driver,” Fr. Njezi appeals.

Bishop Chikwe and his driver were reportedly abducted along Port Harcourt road in Owerri December 27 at about 8 p.m. local time.


The vehicle of the 53-year-old Bishop “was later returned to Assumpta roundabout, while the occupants were believed to have been taken to an unknown destination,” according to The Sun, a Nigerian online publication.

“The Commissioner of Police has activated the Command’s Quick Intervention Team (QUIT) and the Anti Kidnapping Unit (AKU), to move into the matter with a view to rescue the Bishop and possibly arrest the hoodlums,” The Sun further reported, making reference to Isaac Akinmoyede, the Police Commissioner of Nigeria’s Imo State.

In a press release circulated under the title, “SAD EVENT FROM OWERRI,” the Secretary General of the Catholic Secretariat of Nigeria (CSN) where the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Nigeria (CBCN) is headquartered reported the Bishop’s abduction adding, “Up to this moment, there has been no communication from the kidnappers.”

“Trusting in the maternal assistance of Blessed Virgin Mary, we pray for his safety and quick release,” CSN Secretary General, Fr. Zacharia Nyantiso Samjumi said in the press release shared with ACI Africa December 28.

Nigeria has been experiencing insecurity since 2009 when Boko Haram insurgency began targeted attacks with the aim of turning Africa’s most populous nation into an Islamic state.

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Since then, the group, one of largest Islamist groups in Africa, has been orchestrating indiscriminate terrorist attacks on various targets including religious and political groups as well as civilians.

The insecurity situation in the West African country has further been complicated by the involvement of the predominantly Muslim Fulani herdsmen, also referred to as the Fulani Militia, who have been clashing frequently with Christian farmers over grazing land.

The abduction of the Auxiliary Bishop of Nigeria’s Owerri Archdiocese is the latest in a series of kidnappings that have targeted Clergy in the country, the previous abductions involving Catholic Priests.

On December 15, Fr. Valentine Oluchukwu Ezeagu, a member of the Sons of Mary Mother of Mercy (SMMM) was kidnapped in Imo State en route to his father’s funeral in the neighboring Anambra State, Southeastern Nigeria. He was “unconditionally released” the following day.

Last month, Fr. Matthew Dajo, a Nigerian Cleric of the Archdiocese of Abuja, was kidnapped and released after ten days in captivity. Multiple sources in Nigeria told ACI Africa about negotiations for ransom following Fr. Dajo’s November 22 kidnapping, some sources indicating abductors’ demand for hundreds of thousands of US Dollars.


Earlier this month, the U.S. listed Nigeria among the worst countries for religious freedom, the U.S. State Department describing the West African nation as a “country of particular concern (CPC).” This is a formal designation reserved for nations where the worst violations of religious freedom are taking place, the other countries being China, North Korea, and Saudi Arabia.

The action by the U.S. State Department was lauded by the leadership of Knights of Columbus, with the Supreme Knight of the Knights of Columbus, Carl Anderson saying December 16, "Nigeria's Christians have suffered grievously at the hands of Boko Haram and other groups."

The murders and kidnappings of Christians in Nigeria now “verge on genocide,” Anderson added December 16.

“The Christians of Nigeria, both Catholic and Protestant, deserve attention, recognition and relief now,” Anderson further said, adding, “Nigeria's Christians should be able to live in peace and practice their faith without fear."

According to a special report released by the International Society for Civil Liberties and Rule of Law (Intersociety) in March, “no fewer than 20 clergymen including at least eight Catholic Priests/Seminarians were hacked to death in the past 57 months and not less than 50 abducted or kidnapped.”

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Catholic Bishops in Nigeria, which is Africa’s most populous nation, have repeatedly called on Muhammadu Buhari-led government to put in place strict measures to protect her citizens.

“It is just unimaginable and inconceivable to celebrate Nigeria at 60 when our roads are not safe; our people are kidnapped, and they sell their properties to pay ransom to criminals,” members of CBCN said in a collective statement on October 1.