Catholic Priest Abducted in Imo State by Gunmen While Returning from Funeral
In a distressing incident that unfolded on Friday, a Catholic priest, Rev. Fr. Mathias Opara, was forcefully taken captive by unidentified gunmen. The abduction took place along the Ejemekwuru-Ogbaku Road, a significant highway connecting the Oguta and Mbaitoli local government areas of Imo State.According to an eyewitness account shared with our correspondent, the priest was ambushed while en route to the state capital of Owerri after attending the burial ceremony of a fellow clergyman’s father in the Izombo community, located in the Oguta LGA.Rev. Fr. Mathias Opara, well-known as Owu Ujo, held a significant position as the overseer of the Man of Order and Discipline within the Catholic Archdiocese of Owerri. Unfortunately, he, along with several other individuals traveling in the same vehicle, fell victim to the brazen kidnapping.Narrating the incident, a reliable source revealed, “Rev. Fr. Mathias Opara, popularly known as Owu Ujo, has just been kidnapped along the Ejemekwuru/Ogbaku Road. He was kidnapped alongside others who were traveling with him in the same vehicle.”The eyewitness further disclosed that the shocking event unfolded before their very eyes as they were returning to Owerri from the funeral rites in the Oguta LGA. The gravity of the situation was undeniable, leaving the community shaken and concerned for the safety of the abducted individuals.Rev. Fr. Raymond Ogu, the Director of Public Communications for the Owerri Catholic Archdiocese, confirmed the incident when contacted for comment. This disheartening occurrence follows the recent kidnapping of another Catholic priest, Rev. Fr. Jude Maduka, who serves as the head of Christ the King Catholic Church in Ezinachi/Ugwuago within the Okigwe LGA of Imo State. Additionally, Rev. Fr. Micheal Asomugha, responsible for St. Paul’s parish in Osu, located in the Isiala Mbano LGA, was also a victim of abduction.The abductions of these clergymen have intensified concerns over the safety and security of religious leaders within Imo State, as well as raised broader questions about the prevailing state of security in the region. Efforts to ensure the prompt and safe release of Rev. Fr. Mathias Opara, as well as the other abducted priests, are underway as authorities grapple with the alarming surge in such criminal incidents.