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Prayer Appeal for release of Catholic Priest Kidnapped in Nigeria’s Umuahia Diocese

Fr. Mark Chimezie Godfrey kidnapped after celebrating morning Mass at St. Gabriel Catholic Church in Nigeria's Umuahia Diocese. Credit: Courtesy Photo

Prayers are being sought for the quick and safe release of an abducted member of the Clergy of Nigeria’s Catholic Diocese of Umuahia. 

In a message shared with ACI Africa, the Chancellor of the Nigerian Diocese says Fr. Mark Chimezie Godfrey who was ordained earlier this year and serves as the Assistant Parish Priest of St. Theresa Parish was abducted on Wednesday, October 13.

“We are therefore advised to be calm but to pray for his quick release from the hands of his abductors. May the Queen and Mother of the Eternal Priest pray for him,” Fr. Henry Maduka in reference to the abducted Priest.

Fr. Godfrey was kidnapped after celebrating morning Mass at St. Gabriel Catholic Church, the Chancellor of Umuahia Diocese says in the message shared with ACI Africa October 14, and adds, “The sad event took place just very close to his house.”

In a news report published October 13, Catechist Mathias Ezenwa Uwakwe of St. Theresa Parish says Fr. Godfrey’s vehicle was intercepted by gunmen who forced the Cleric out of the Toyota Corolla he was driving into their jeep and drove off.

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“What I think is that he may have been mistaken for another person because we’re at a loss as to why a young Priest that just started God’s service should be kidnapped,” Catechist Uwakwe has been quoted as saying.

He adds, “The abductors may have been looking for somebody else and may have run into him and got him kidnapped.” 

The abduction of Fr. Godfrey of Umuahia Diocese is the latest of a series of attacks that seem to target Clergy and Christians in the West African nation that has been grappling with insecurity since 2009 when Boko Haram insurgency emerged with the aim of turning the country into an Islamic State. 

Earlier this week, on October 11, Christ the King Major Seminary of the Catholic Diocese of Kafanchan was attacked and three Major Seminarians kidnapped. All the three Seminarians were released on October 13.

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

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In an October 7 statement, Christian leaders of various denominations in the South Eastern part of Nigeria expressed concern over increased insecurity and violence in the region, saying that part of Nigeria was descending into lawlessness

“As religious leaders of this badly battered region, we appeal to all those responsible for the killings to please stop, before the entire South East descends into anarchy, which will invariably affect the other parts of the country,” the Christian leaders said in their collective statement.

They added in reference to the Indigenous People of Biafra, (IPOB), a group that has been banned by the Nigerian government, “We would also like to engage the members of the Indigenous People of Biafra and other separatist groups, to ask them to eschew all violent activities. But we cannot reasonably do this as long as any of them is proscribed as a terrorist group.” 

“We therefore call on the Federal Government to consider granting amnesty to IPOB and other separatist groups,” the Christian leaders said in their statement titled, “Restore Trust, Confidence and Calm in South East Nigeria: A Passionate Plea by the Christian Religious Leaders of South East Nigeria.”