After Weeks in Captivity, Catholic Priest of Lokoja Diocese in Nigeria Regains Freedom

Fr. Christopher Itopa Onotu after his release on 30 June 2022. Credit: Lokoja Diocese

Fr. Christopher Itopa Onotu, the Catholic Priest who was kidnapped on June 4 from his Parish residence in the Diocese of Lokoja in Nigeria, has been freed, the Chancellor of the Nigerian Diocese has confirmed. 

In a statement shared with ACI Africa, Fr. Augustine Okafor confirmed the release of Fr. Onotu and expressed gratitude to the people of God for their prayers and support.

“Thank God they have just released our brother, Fr. Christopher Itopa Onotu this evening,” Fr. Okafor says in his Thursday, June 30 statement, adding that the freed Priest “is at Christ the King College and Fr. Awolumate is taking care of him.”

“Fr Onotu himself has spoken to the Bishop,” Fr. Okafor adds in reference to the Local Ordinary of Lokoja Diocese, Bishop Martin Dada Abejide Olorunmolu.

In his statement, the Chancellor of the Nigerian Diocese that is within the Ecclesiastical Province of Abuja expresses gratitude for the solidarity shown, saying, “Thanks for your prayers and material support.”


Fr. Onotu was abducted from his residence at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish of Lokoja Diocese in Nigeria, the Chancellor of Lokoja Diocese announced in a statement circulated on the day after the abduction, June 5.

In a June 6 interview with ACI Africa, a Catholic Priest who did not want to be named said, “The kidnappers have made contact with the Diocese and they are asking 50,000,000 Naira ransom,” an amount equivalent to about US$120,500.00.

“The negotiation is ongoing,” the Priest said, adding that the meetings about how to go about the ransom demand are taking place.

Nigeria “is grappling with a wave of violence by armed gangs who frequently carry out killings and kidnappings for ransom – mostly in unprotected rural communities,” BBC News reported in April.

The West African nation has been experiencing insecurity since 2009 when Boko Haram insurgency began with the aim of turning the country into an Islamic state.

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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 insecurity situation in the country 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.

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.