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Crime & Punishment of Monday, 15 August 2022


Another Catholic priest kidnapped in Nigeria

File image of an gunmen File image of an gunmen

Gunmen have abducted a Catholic priest along Okigwe-Umunneochi Road, between Imo and Abia states, Nigeria’s Southeast.

The incident happened on Friday.

The abducted priest, Chinedu Nwadike, is the deputy registrar of the Spiritan University, Abia State.

He was abducted alongside a Catholic seminarian, Emmanuel Nwafor, while they were on their way to Enugu State.

The Director of Communication of the Enugu Catholic Diocese, Benjamin Achi, confirmed the incident to PREMIUM TIMES, Monday morning.

“We got the information from their superiors – Spiritan University. He (Mr Nwadike) was kidnapped. He works at the university,” he said.

Mr Achi, a Catholic priest, said the kidnappers are demanding a N50 million ransom.

He described the abduction of the clerics as “sad” and said it was worrisome that hoodlums “have turned their attention to ministers of God” in the country.

“It keeps happening in quick succession, these days,” Mr Achi said.

When contacted, the police spokesperson in Imo State, Michael Abattam, said the incident happened outside Imo State.

He advised the Catholic community to report the incident to the police if they were yet to do so, in order to aid the police investigation.

The police spokesperson in Abia State, Geoffrey Ogbonna, did not immediately respond to calls seeking comments from him.

He later promised to call back but was yet to do so as of the time of filing this report.

Increase in abduction cases

Abduction for ransom has increased in Abia State in recent times, particularly in Umunneochi Local Government Area.

The latest incident occurred barely 24 hours after gunmen abducted a police officer at Mbala Divisional Police Headquarters in Isuochi Community, Umunneochi Local Government Area of the state.

The abducted officer, simply identified as Dickson, is a deputy superintendent of police, and the divisional crime officer in the police facility.

He is yet to be released, four days after.

About three weeks ago, gunmen abducted scores of passengers along Enugu-Port Harcourt highway between Leru Junction and Ihube Community, a boundary between Imo and Abia states, Nigeria’s South-east.

In July, gunmen abducted some travellers in Lokpanta, a community in Umunneochi Local Government Area of the state.

Mid-June, gunmen also abducted a journalist in Umuahia, the state capital. He was released about five days later, after a N10 million ransom was reportedly paid.

Earlier in June, Uwadinachi Iweha, a medical doctor and the provost of Gregory University College of Medicine, Umuahia Campus, was also abducted.

He was whisked away while driving out of his residence at Umuajameze Ezeleke Umuopara in Umuahia South Council Area of the state.

Mr Iweha is yet to be released, about two months after his abduction.

In May, Samuel Kanu-Uche, the Prelate of the Methodist Church of Nigeria, was kidnapped alongside two other priests, while they were on their way from a programme in Umunneochi Local Government Area of the state.

The clerics were released about two days later after reportedly paying N100 million to the kidnappers.

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