Fear in Nigeria, the big West African state – and the most populous of the continent – overlooking the Gulf of Guinea. In the south of the country – far rom the terrorist attacks of Boko Haram, concentrated in the north – a Jesuit was kidnapped. It has been reported by the Agency Fides. This is P. Samuel Okwuidegbe, 50 years old Nigerian Jesuit, which has been picked up by unknown people last 18 April on the road that connects Benin City to Onitsha.
The dynamics of the kidnapping
According to the information collected by “La Croix”, p. Okwuidegbe was going to lead a retreat at 150 km from the centre of spirituality directed by him where he lives with 3 confreres. His car was found by the police without anybody on board abandoned along the road. The Nigerian public security forces have immediately started the research.
“In this moment, we do not have many details. This is the first time in many years that a priest of our Society of Jesus is the victim of a kidnapping in the region,” said Fr. Rigobert Kyungu Musenge, Regional Secretary of the Jesuits in Africa and Madagascar which reveals that, together with Fr. Okwuidegbe, have been kidnapped two other persons. “We do not think that he has been kidnapped specially as priest” he stresses. The reasons are unknown, but it is probably an attempt of extortion of money and not a terrorist act.
The previous cases
In 2016 – accordingly to the organ of information of the Pontifical Mission Societies – several Catholic priests were abducted in Nigeria in the regions of the south. Don Onmoke Sylvester, President of the Association of diocesan priests of Nigeria has qualified “The recent wave of kidnappings of priests and religious people as an assault on the Church”.
The most dramatic case is that of Fr. John Adeyi, Vicar General of the diocese of Otukpo, in the Nigerian state of Benue, who was kidnapped on 24 April 2016, and whose remains were found two months later, on 22 June in his hometown. The kidnappers had asked for a ransom for his release but, despite the family had delivered the requested sum, the priest had not been released. Then, the tragic discovery: the priest was already dead for some time.