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Nigerian Catholic Priest Regains Freedom “unhurt” after 10-day Captivity

Fr. Mark Chimezie Godfrey released on 23 October 2021 after 10 days in captivity. Credit: Courtesy Photo

The Nigerian Priest kidnapped October 13 in Nigeria’s Catholic Diocese of Umuahia has regained freedom “unhurt”,  his Local Ordinary has confirmed.

In a statement issued Saturday, October 23, Bishop Lucius Iwejáru Ugorji says the safe return of the Priest is God’s answer to “our prayers.”

“I am pleased to announce that one of my Priests, Rev. Fr. Mark Chimezie Godfrey, who was kidnapped on 13 October 2021, has regained his freedom today, after ten days in captivity,” Bishop Ugorji says in his statement obtained by ACI Africa.

The Nigerian Bishop adds, “We thank God immensely for answering our prayers and facilitating his return to us unhurt.”

Fr. Godfrey was kidnapped after celebrating morning Mass at St. Gabriel Catholic Church in Nigeria's Umuahia Diocese.

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In a news report published October 13, Catechist Mathias Ezenwa Uwakwe of St. Theresa Parish said 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.

“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 was quoted as saying.

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

In a message shared with ACI Africa following the October 13 incident, the Chancellor of Umuahia Diocese had appealed for prayers for the Priest who was ordained earlier this year and served as the Assistant Parish Priest of St. Theresa Parish of the Nigerian Diocese.

“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 said in reference to the abducted Priest.

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In his October 23 statement, the Local Ordinary of Umuahia Diocese expresses his “deep gratitude” to all those who prayed for the safe release of Fr. Godfrey.

“I take advantage of this opportunity to express our deep gratitude to all Bishops, Priests, Consecrated men and women and all Christ's faithful who assisted us with prayers during the difficult and trying period of his captivity,” Bishop Ugorji Bishop says.

He implores, “May God bless and reward you abundantly for your solidarity.”

The release of Fr. Godfrey of Umuahia Diocese adds to the list of Priests Kidnapped and later released in Africa’s most populous 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. 

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.

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