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Appeal for Prayers, Speedy, Safe Release of Nigerian Catholic Priest Kidnapped March 15

Fr. Harrison Egwuenu who was kidnapped Monday, March 15 in Nigeria's Warri Diocese.

Prayers are being sought in Nigeria’s Warri Diocese for the safe and “speedy release” of the member of the Clergy who was abducted Monday, March 15.

“Please, join us in prayer for the speedy release of Fr. Harrison Egwuenu who was kidnapped at about 8 p.m. on Monday at a bad spot in Oria-Abraka, Ethiope East Local Government Area of and for peace and security in Nigeria,” the Administrator of the Sacred Heart Cathedral of Warri Diocese, Fr. Benedict Okutegbe, told ACI Africa Thursday, March 18.

According to Fr. Okutegbe, Fr. Egwuenu was, in the evening, returning to St. George’s college Obinomba where he recently assumed the office of Principal when he was “kidnapped by armed gunmen who took him to an unknown destination.”

“The authorities have been notified and a manhunt has been launched for the abductors,” he said.

Fr. Okutegbe who previously served as Director of social communications of Warri Diocese described Fr. Egwuenu as a “dedicated and hardworking Priest.”

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The West African nation has been experiencing insecurity since 2009 when Boko Haram insurgency began with the aim of turning the country into an Islamic state.

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 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.

 

In recent times, the state of insecurity in the country has heightened, according to reports.

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Last December, the Auxiliary Bishop of Nigeria’s Archdiocese of Owerri, Bishop Moses Chikwe was kidnapped by unknown gun and later released unharmed.

In November, unknown gunmen kidnapped Fr. Matthew Dajo during a violent attack in the town where his Parish is located.

Fr. Dajo was picked up from St Anthony's Catholic Parish, Yangoji, after armed bandits raided the community and shot sporadically for about 30 minutes.

Speaking about the insecurity situation in Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation, Fr. Okutegbe told ACI Africa, “This has nothing to do with religion. One can say it is simply a reflection of the collapse of the security apparatus of the State and Country. No one seems to be safe anymore.”

Catholic Bishops in Nigeria  have repeatedly called on the government to put in place strict measures to protect her citizens.

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“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 the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria (CBCN) said in their October 1 collective statement.

They added, “Nigerians are experiencing an invasion of their farmlands by armed Fulani-herdsmen; a group well organized and already designated as the fourth deadliest terrorists' group in the world by the Global Terrorism Index.”