Catholic Bishop abducted in Nigeria by Islamic militants - years of genocide against Christians
Justin Haggerty | The Daily Knight
Catholic Bishops in Nigeria have urged prayer for the safety and release of a bishop who was abducted Sunday in Owerri, the capital of Nigeria’s Imo State, by Islamic militants. Nigeria has suffered over 50,000-70,000 confirmed killings of Christians over the past four years, as reported by the International Christian Concern (ICC).
The secretary general of the Nigerian bishops’ conference reported that Bishop Moses Chikwe “is said to have been kidnapped in the night of Sunday 27 December 2020."
Bishop Chikwe is the auxiliary bishop of Nigeria’s Archdiocese of Owerri.
F. Zacharia Nyantiso Samjumi, in a press release by ACI Africa, said that “up to this moment, there has been no communication from the kidnappers."
“Trusting in the maternal assistance of Blessed Virgin Mary, we pray for his safety and quick release,” the CSN secretary general added.
Various sources have indicated that the bishop’s whereabouts remain unknown.
According to The Sun, the kidnapping occurred along Port Harcourt road in Owerri at about 8 p.m. local time.
Bishop Chikwe “was kidnapped alongside his driver in his official car,” The Sun reported, citing eyewitnesses, who added that the bishop’s vehicle “was later returned to Assumpta roundabout, while the occupants were believed to have been taken to an unknown destination.”
AIC Africa reported that the "Bishop Chikwe’s abduction is the latest in a series of attacks that have targeted clergy in Nigeria, but previous abductions have involved priests and seminarians, not bishops. This is the highest profile attack from Islamic militants."
"On Dec. 15, Fr. Valentine Oluchukwu Ezeagu, a member of the Sons of Mary Mother of Mercy (SMMM) was kidnapped in Imo State en route to his father’s funeral in the neighboring Anambra State, in southeastern Nigeria," stated Catholic News Agency. He was “unconditionally released” the following day.
Furthermore, AIC Africa reported how Fr. Matthew Dajo, a Nigerian priest of the Archdiocese of Abuja, was kidnapped last month and released after ten days in captivity." Multiple sources in Nigeria told ACI Africa about negotiations for ransom following Fr. Dajo’s Nov. 22 kidnapping, some sources indicating abductors’ demand for hundreds of thousands of U.S. dollars.
As a result of recent violence, the U.S. State Department listed Nigeria among the worst countries for religious freedom, describing the West African nation as a “country of particular concern (CPC).” This is a formal designation reserved for nations where the worst violations of religious freedom are taking place, the other countries being China, North Korea, and Saudi Arabia. Nevertheless, this declaration by the United States took several years to consider.
The leadership of Knights of Columbus voiced support for the action by the U.S. State Department; Carl Anderson, Supreme Knight of the Knights of Columbus, asserted on December 16th that "Nigeria's Christians have suffered grievously at the hands of Boko Haram [ISIS affiliated] and other groups."
Anderson added that "the murders and kidnappings of Christians in Nigeria now 'verge on genocide.'
“The Christians of Nigeria, both Catholic and Protestant, deserve attention, recognition and relief now,” Anderson declared, adding, “Nigeria's Christians should be able to live in peace and practice their faith without fear."
The International Society for Civil Liberties and Rule of Law (Intersociety) released a report in March, that affirmed that “no fewer than 20 clergymen including at least eight Catholic Priests/Seminarians were hacked to death in the past 57 months and not less than 50 abducted or kidnapped.”
The Catholic News Agency illustrated how the "Catholic bishops in Nigeria, which is Africa’s most populous nation, have repeatedly called on Muhammadu Buhari-led government to put in place strict measures to protect her citizens."
Unfortuenarly, as the rest of the world celebrates the passing of 2020 and the welcoming of 2021, the families of five Christians from Nigeria are in morning and missing their fathers, brothers, sons, and grandsons. A video produced by Boko Haram and released on Dec 30th, showed the beheading of five Christian men.
With trumpets ringing in jubilation, all of the angels and saints in heaven welcomed these martyrs home into our Lord's kingdom.
We pray for the safety of His Grace, Bishop Moses Chikwe:
Ave Maria, gratia plena,
Benedicta tu in mulieribus,
et benedictus fructus ventris tui,
Sancta Maria, Mater Dei,
ora pro nobis peccatoribus,
nunc et in hora mortis nostrae.
In Christ Crucified and the Most Victorious Heart of Jesus.