On May 26, Fr. Matthias Opara, a Priest of Nigeria’s Catholic Archdiocese of Owerri was abducted while returning from a funeral; he was later released on Pentecost Sunday 2023.
Earlier, on May 19, Fr. Jude Kingsley Maduka, a Nigerian Catholic Priest serving in Okigwe Diocese was kidnapped and freed after three days of captivity.
Fr. Chochos Kunav and Fr. Raphael Ogigba, who had been abducted on April 29 from Nigeria’s Catholic Diocese of Warri were released on May 4.
The leadership of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) that includes representatives of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria (CBCN) has urged President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, who was sworn in on May 29 to prioritize the security concerns and the economic struggles of the people of God in the West African nation.
“Nigeria is facing a number of challenges that require strong and decisive leadership,” Rev. Daniel Okoh said May 29, and added, “From security concerns to economic struggles, it is clear that there is much work to be done in order to ensure that Nigeria can reach its full potential.”
Earlier, the Catholic Bishop of the country’s Sokoto Diocese called upon President Bola Ahmed Tinubu to identify what is behind the “scars, wounds and injuries” of Nigerians even as he prioritizes their healing.
Bishop Matthew Hassan Kukah who was speaking at the 2023 presidential inauguration lecture held in Abuja on May 27 lamented, “We have so many of our citizens who have lost their lives and a lot who are in captivity.”
The vocal Nigerian Catholic Bishop who is also known for good governance advocacy said that the “worst thing that can happen to us is to pretend that everything is okay because everything is not okay.”
The West African nation has been battling a surge of violence orchestrated by gangs, whose members carry out indiscriminate attacks, kidnapping for ransom, and in some cases, kill.
The country has been experiencing the Boko Haram insurgency since 2009, a group that allegedly aims at turning it into an Islamic nation.