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Nigerian Catholic Priest Recovering from Trauma after Weeklong Captivity

Fr. Harrison Egwuenu, a Priest of Nigeria’s Warri diocese freed Sunday, March 21 after spending a week in captivity

The Nigerian Catholic Priest who had been kidnapped March 15 is recovering from trauma after having spent a week in captivity.

Fr. Harrison Egwuenu, a Clergy of Nigeria’s Warri Diocese, was freed last Sunday, March 21, the Administrator of the Sacred Heart Cathedral of Warri Diocese has told ACI Africa.

“We are grateful to God for the safe release of Fr. Harrison Egwuenu,” Fr. Benedict Okutegbe told ACI Africa Thursday, March 25.

Fr. Okutegbe added, “Fr. Egwuenu is doing okay. Of course, he needs time to overcome the traumatic experience.”

The Nigerian Cleric who previously served as Director of Social Communications of Warri Diocese expressed appreciation to the people of God for their prayers saying, “We all prayed and our prayers were heard. To God be the glory.”

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On the day he was abducted by unknown gunmen, Fr. Egwuenu was returning to St. George’s college Obinomba where he recently assumed the office of Principal.

Nigeria 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 situation of insecurity in the West African nation 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.

Speaking about insecurity in the country during the March 25 interview, Fr. Okutegbe challenged Muhammadu Buhari-led government to realize its primary duty of safeguarding the lives of Nigerians.

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“One of the primary duties of Government is the protection of the lives and property of her citizens,” Fr. Okutegbe told ACI Africa, adding, “There is need for the government to get to work and keep Nigeria safe and peaceful.”

“The government should wake up to this responsibility or give way to one who can,” the Nigerian Cleric emphasized, and posed, “How can there be sustainable development in a country whose security architecture has collapsed?”

“We demand more from our government. not tomorrow but now!!! They should #Stand UP or STAND DOWN#” Fr. Okutegbe appealed during the March 25 interview with ACI Africa.

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

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

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