, 19 February, 2020 / 2:45 AM
The Nigerian priest who had been kidnapped by gunmen Nigeria’s Edo State towards the end of last week, Fr. Nicolas Oboh, has been freed, a message from his diocese of Uromi has confirmed.
“I am pleased to inform this house that our priest who was kidnapped last week Thursday, Rev. Fr. Nicolas Oboh has regained his freedom,” the Director of Communications of Uromi Diocese in Nigeria, Fr. Leonard Elomien announced in a WhatsApp message shared on the forum of all directors of communications in various dioceses and Catholic institutions in Nigeria
“He was released this evening,” Fr. Elomien stated in his Tuesday, February 18 message seen by ACI Africa and added, “Many thanks for your prayers and goodwill.”
More details may follow at a later time, one of the Directors of Communication in Nigeria told ACI Africa.
On the day of Fr. Oboh’s abduction, local news outlets in the West African nation had reported that several children had also been kidnapped.
“We are sure that he is alive, and since the incident, steps have been taken to ensure that Rev. Fr. Nicholas Oboh is released without any harm,” the Chancellor of Nigeria’s Uromi diocese, Fr. Osi Odenore had told local reporters on the day the Nigerian cleric had been abducted.
Fr. Oboh’s kidnapping was the latest in a series of abductions and killings in Nigeria that seem to target followers of Christ, including clergy, seminarians, and the lay faithful.
Last week, suspected Islamist militants in Borno state staged an arson attack, killing 30 people, including a pregnant mother and her baby.
The attack also destroyed 18 vehicles filled with food supplies for the region.
At the end of last month, 18-year-old seminarian, Michael Nnadi, was killed weeks after he, alongside three other seminarians, had been abducted from their Good Shepherd Major seminary in Nigeria’s Kaduna State.
The series of targeted kidnappings and abductions have been attributed to “a state-funded movement called: The Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa (MOJWAS),” a source in Nigeria told ACI Africa.
MOJWAS has members “spread across West Africa – from central Mali, moving towards Nigeria, via Niger Republic with a strong alliance from some people and the Tillaberi region of Niger Republic. They are active in the Chad basin and joined Boko Haram and extend to the select and 3R groups in Central Africa Republic CAR,” the source said.
The agenda of MOJWAS, the source said, “is to conquer the rich river basin of the Benue valley for both economic and religious reasons.”
“Brothers and sisters let us rise and begin to talk,” the source told ACI Africa and added in reference to the Federal Government of Nigeria and the various States, “We must begin to engage this government at all levels now!”
At the burial of seminarian Michael Nnadi, Bishop Matthew Hassan Kukah of Sokoto in Nigeria, faulted the country’s President, Muhammadu Buhari for the insecurity in Africa’s most populous nation.
“No one could have imagined that in winning the Presidency, General Buhari would bring nepotism and clannishness into the military and the ancillary Security Agencies, that his government would be marked by supremacist and divisive policies that would push our country to the brink,” Bishop Kukah bemoaned in his homily Tuesday, February 11 during Michael’s burial.
President Buhari has not only “displayed the greatest degree of insensitivity in managing our country’s rich diversity” but has also “subordinated the larger interests of the country to the hegemonic interests of his co-religionists and clansmen and women,” the Nigerian Prelate told mourners.
Despite President Buhari “running the most nepotistic and narcissistic government in known history, there are no answers to the millions of young children on the streets in northern Nigeria, the north still has the worst indices of poverty, insecurity, stunting, squalor and destitution,” Bishop Kukah continued.
“This is for us the moment of decision. This is the moment that separates darkness from light, good from evil. Our nation is like a ship stranded on the high seas, rudderless and with broken navigational aids,” Bishop Kukah, 67, said and added, “Today, our years of hypocrisy, duplicity, fabricated integrity, false piety, empty morality, fraud and Pharisaism have caught up with us. Nigeria is on the crossroads and its future hangs precariously in a balance. This is a wakeup call for us.”
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ACI Africa was officially inaugurated on August 17, 2019 as a continental Catholic news agency at the service of the Church in Africa. Headquartered in Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, this media apostolate will strive to facilitate the telling of Africa’s story by providing media coverage of Catholic events on the African continent, giving visibility to the activities of the Church across Africa where statistics show significant growth in numbers and the continent gradually becoming the axis of Catholicism. This is expected to contribute to an awareness of and appreciation for the significant role of the Church in Africa and over time, the realization of a realistic image of Africa that often receives negative media framing.
Father Don Bosco Onyalla
Editor-in-Chief, ACI Africa