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Popular Catholic Priest Kidnapped by Suspected Fulani Herdsmen in Enugu State

In a distressing turn of events, gunmen suspected to be Fulani herdsmen have struck Enugu State once again, leaving a community in turmoil. Among their victims is Reverend Father Marcellinus Okide, a dedicated Catholic priest, who was abducted alongside six other motorists at separate locations within the state. This incident unfolded scarcely 24 hours after a middle-aged man lost his life and several others were kidnapped in the same region on a harrowing Saturday.

Fr. Okide, the parish priest of St. Mary’s Catholic Church Amofia-Agu Affa, situated in the Udi local government area of Enugu State, fell prey to these criminals on a somber Sunday evening, approximately at 5:00 pm, while he was returning to his parish. The Catholic Diocese of Enugu State swiftly confirmed his abduction, prompting an urgent call to action from the community.

Rev. Fr. Anthony Aneke, the Diocesan Communication Director, expressed deep concern over the worsening insecurity in the state, the broader South East region, and indeed, the entire nation. He beseeched both security agencies and the government to heed their solemn responsibility of safeguarding the lives and well-being of Nigerian citizens.

Fr. Aneke confirmed that Fr. Okide’s ordeal unfolded along the perilous Eke-Egede-Affa Road in Nigeria. In an official statement, he lamented, “In a troubling incident, Rev. Fr. Marcellinus Obioma Okide, a Catholic priest, was abducted on September 17, 2023, at approximately 5:00 p.m. while traveling along the Eke-Egede-Affa Road in Nigeria. Fr. Okide, who serves at St. Mary Amofia-Agu Affa Parish, was en route to his parish when the unfortunate incident occurred.”

The statement continued, “The diocese has issued a fervent appeal to the faithful and the public at large for prayers, hoping for the swift and safe release of Fr. Okide. Additionally, they are calling for a change of heart on the part of the kidnappers. This distressing event highlights the ongoing challenge of kidnappings in the region.”

As Enugu State grapples with this grim abduction, another sinister incident unfolded on Saturday evening. Sunday Nwa Ugwuja, a middle-aged man, met a tragic end along the Edem-Nrobo-Ezikolo-Abbi Road in Uzo-Uwani Council, with several others sustaining grave injuries during an ambush by kidnappers. Sunday, hailing from Apapam village, Ezikolo Abbi community, was en route to Nsukka when assailants attacked, ultimately claiming his life.

The assailants fired relentlessly at their vehicle, but the victims managed to escape with their lives. Sunday was rushed to Bishop Shanaham Hospital, Nsukka, where he succumbed to his injuries due to significant blood loss. Amidst the chaos, one man suffered a gunshot wound to his hand, while another, along with his family, narrowly avoided becoming casualties as they stumbled upon the scene.

Despite these alarming events, the Enugu State Police have yet to issue a response. DSP Daniel Ndukwe, the State Police Public Relations Officer, remains unreachable. However, reports indicate that operatives from the Udi Police Division are diligently scouring the area, working tirelessly to secure the release of Fr. Okide and the other victims.

The relentless surge in insecurity in Enugu State and the nation at large casts a dark shadow over the region, underscoring the dire need for concerted efforts to address this grave issue. The entire community, both Christian and non-Christian alike, awaits with bated breath for the safe return of Fr. Okide and the restoration of peace to their troubled land.


Ademola Adeyemi

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