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“I am hale and hearty,” Cameroonian Catholic Priest to Congregation after 10-Day Captivity

Fr. Christopher Eboka, freed after spending 10 days in captivity in Mamfe. Credit: Courtesy Photo

The Cameroonian Catholic Priest who has secured his freedom after 10 days of captivity says he is “hale and hearty.”

Addressing a gathering of Christians at St. Joseph Cathedral of Mamfe Diocese shortly after his release Tuesday, June 1, Fr. Christopher Eboka who had been abducted May 22 said, “I am very Happy; the Lord has done it for us. As you can see, I am very fine. Nobody has touched me. I am hale and hearty.”

“I thank the Almighty God for making it possible for me to regain my freedom. I thank you all for your prayers and for everything,” Fr. Eboka said.

The Cameroonian Cleric went missing May 21. In a May 26 statement, the Chancellor of Mamfe Diocese, Fr. Sebastine Sinju, indicated that Fr. Eboka who had “left Mamfe town for a brief Pastoral trek … to some Mission Stations of the Cathedral Parish” had been “taken hostage on May 22, 2021 by some separatist fighters.”

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Fr. Sinju invited Priests ministering in Mamfe Diocese to offer Holy Mass for Fr. Eboka’s “immediate and unconditional release” on May 28.

In his address to those who gathered at the Cathedral Parish June 1, Fr. Eboka attributed his safe release to prayer and divine intervention.

“I always tell you that prayer is our only weapon. Without prayer we are nothing. God showed us the sign after nine days of intense prayer, that is a complete novena. After the nine days of prayer the Lord did it for us,” Fr. Eboka said.

For the 10 days he spent in captivity, the Priest said, he was with “Amstrong. He is the motorbike rider who takes me to distant places within our Diocese.”

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“Let us continue to pray for peace to return to our country,” he added.

Separatists have been operating in the English-speaking regions of Cameroon, Southwest and Northwest, since 2016 when the Anglophone region plunged into crisis after a protest by lawyers and teachers turned violent.

The armed separatists who claim independence for the so-called republic of Ambazonia have been responsible for abductions and attacks in the Anglophone regions.

In a statement issued shortly after the release of Fr. Eboka, the leadership of the so-called republic of Ambazonia says, the Cleric “was held under custody for investigation of alleged crimes being committed by him & the Catholic Church as a whole against our Ambazonia War of Independence.”

“We're cautioning the Catholic Church to stop working underground with the LRC (Government of Cameroon) in bribing our fighters to surrender themselves,” Ambazonia officials have been quoted as saying in the June 1 statement shared on social media.

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They add, “The church should take a neutral stance. She can morally preach for peace & call for calm on both sides & call for GENUINE DIALOGUE as a neutral party.”

“We sincerely appreciate and salute the great humanitarian work of the Church in helping our suffering people all over; but we advise them to end that and continue to pray for all while maintaining a neutral stance,” the Ambazonia officials say.

Last November, the late Christian Cardinal Tumi was kidnapped by the separatists and freed after spending a night with his abductors.

Twelve other people, including the traditional Chief of the Nso tribe, Fon Sehm Mbinglo II, were kidnapped alongside the Cardinal.

The separatists were also responsible for the June 2019 abduction of the Archbishop emeritus of Bamenda, Cornelius Fontem Esua, and that of Bishop George Nkuo of Kumbo Diocese in August 2019.

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