Spiritan Priest, Seminarian Freed after Abduction from Okigwe Catholic Diocese in Nigeria

Fr. Chinedu Nwadike. Credit: Spiritan University Nneochi (SUN)

A member of the Congregation of the Holy Spirit (Holy Ghost Fathers – Spiritans) and a seminarian kidnapped from the Catholic Diocese of Okigwe in Nigeria on August 12 have been freed.

In a Monday, August 15 statement, the leadership of the Spiritans in Nigeria has announced the safe release of Fr. Chinedu Nwadike and Seminarian Emmanuel Enwerechi Nwafor, and offered gratitude for prayers towards their safe release.

In the statement that the Provincial Secretary of the Spiritans in Nigeria, Fr Vitalis Anusionwu, issued, the leaders of the Missionary Congregation in the West African nation have announced the return of their confrere and the Pre-postulant “with hearts full of joy and gratitude to God”.

“We thank you for heeding our plea to storm the heavens with your prayers for their safety and speedy release,” The Spiritan leaders have said in reference to those who offered prayers for the release of the two, adding, “Your prayers were really effective.”

Fr. Nwadike who serves as the Deputy Registrar of Spiritan University Nneochi (SUN) and Seminarian Nwafor were reportedly kidnapped on August 12 by gunmen identified to be bandits along the Okigwe – Enugu expressway in Abia State. The duo are said to have been on their way to Enugu for an official assignment.


Their kidnappers reportedly established contact with Catholic institution allegedly demanding N50 million (US$ 119,127.00) ransom for their release.

The abduction of Fr Nwadike and Seminarian Nwafor is the latest in a series of kidnappings targeting members of the Clergy and Christians in Africa’s most populous nation.

The West African nation “is grappling with a wave of violence by armed gangs who frequently carry out killings and kidnappings for ransom – mostly in unprotected rural communities,” BBC News reported in April.

Last month, the Catholic Diocese of Kafanchan announced the “gruesome murder” of Fr. John Mark Cheitnum, kidnapped on July 15 alongside Fr. Denatus Cleopas, the latter having safely escaped from his captors.

On June 26, two Catholic Priests were killed in separate attacks in their respective Nigerian Dioceses, one in Kaduna Archdiocese, and the other in Auchi Diocese.

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On June 19, gunmen attacked worshippers at St. Moses Rubu church, one of the 17 outstations of St. Augustine’s Parish of Kaduna Archdiocese, Maranatha Baptist and Evangelical Church Winning All, all the churches in the LGA of Kajuru, Kaduna State.

On Pentecost Sunday, June 5, gunmen attacked St. Francis Xavier Owo Catholic Parish of Ondo Diocese leaving 39 Catholics killed and more than 80 injured.

Earlier this year, in March, Fr. Joseph Akete Bako, another Priest serving in Kaduna Archdiocese, was kidnapped by gunmen at his residence and his security guard killed. The leadership of Catholic Archdiocese later announced the passing on of Fr. Bako.

In their August 15 statement issued by Fr Anusionwu, the Spiritan leaders in Nigeria have called for caution, saying, “The spate of insecurity in the country is increasing, hence let us be very careful in our various movements.”

Jude Atemanke is a Cameroonian journalist with a passion for Catholic Church communication. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from the University of Buea in Cameroon. Currently, Jude serves as a journalist for ACI Africa.