Pope Francis Accepts Retirement of Nigeria’s Owerri Archbishop, Appoints Successor

Archbishop-elect Lucius Iwejuru Ugorji, appointed Archbishop of Nigeria's Owerri Archdiocese on 6 March 2022. Credit: Umuahia Diocese

Pope Francis has accepted the retirement of Archbishop Anthony John Valentine Obinna of the Catholic Archdiocese of Owerri in Nigeria and appointed his successor.

In the latest administrative changes published Sunday, March 6 by the Holy See Press Office, the Holy Father appointed Bishop Lucius Iwejuru Ugorji of Umuahia Diocese as the successor of Archbishop Obinna.

Archbishop-elect Ugorji is expected to succeed 75-year-old Archbishop Obinna who has been at the helm of the Nigerian Archdiocese since his Episcopal Ordination in September 1993.

The Archbishop-elect will continue to temporarily oversee the Episcopal See of Ahiara Diocese as in his capacity as Apostolic Administrator, a role he has had since February 2018 following the crisis that resulted in the resignation of Bishop Peter Ebere Okpaleke.

Born in January 1952, the Archbishop-elect was ordained a Priest for the Catholic Diocese of Umuahia in April 1977.


As a Priest, he served as Secretary to the then Bishop of Umuahia Diocese, Bishop Anthony Gogo Nwodo.

He was ordained a Bishop of Nigeria’s Umuahia Diocese on 1 July 1990.

In 2015, during the Silver Jubilee of his Episcopal Ordination, Archbishop-elect Ugorji said the “biggest challenge” in the territory covered by Umuahia Diocese was the domination by  “mostly protestant churches – the Presbyterians, the Methodists and the Anglicans.”

“I was the Chairman of the Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, Abia State Chapter for 12 years, from 1993 to 2005. That office gave me a unique opportunity to bring our separated brethren to ecumenical dialogue and joint action,” the Archbishop-elect was quoted as saying during his Episcopal Silver Jubilee in 2015. 

In December 2020, Archbishop-elect Ugorji resigned as chairman of the Governing Council of Imo State University (IMSU) in Owerri.

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According to the Archbishop-elect, “IMSU was not being run as an institution of higher learning deserving of Imo State University status and that in order to avoid dabbling into any mess, (I) opted to resign.”

Once installed, the 70-year-old Archbishop-elect is expected to serve as the Local Ordinary of the 2,996 square kilometer Archdiocese that has an estimated population of 1,086,393 Catholics, according to 2019 statistics.

Jude Atemanke is a Cameroonian journalist with a passion for Catholic Church communication. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from the University of Buea in Cameroon. Currently, Jude serves as a journalist for ACI Africa.