Another Imo Catholic priest kidnapped

Gunmen on Friday evening, abducted another Catholic Priest, Rev. Fr. Mathias Opara, in Imo State.

Mr Opara was abducted along Ejemekwuru and Ogbaku road between Oguta and Mbaitoli Local Government Areas of the state.

A witness said that the priest was kidnapped while returning from a burial ceremony of a colleague’s father at Izombe community in Oguta Local Government Area.

The source, who pleaded anonymity, said the priest was double-crossed and kidnapped along with some people in the same vehicle while driving back to Owerri.

“The incident happened right before us. We were also coming back to Owerri from the funeral ceremony when the incident occurred,” the source said.

When contacted for confirmation, the state’s Police Public Relations Officer, ASP Henry Okoye, could not confirm the report.

Mr Okoye simply said “I am yet to receive an official report in line with that.”

However, the Director of Public Communications of the Owerri Catholic Archdiocese, Rev. Fr. Raymond Ogu, who confirmed the incident, said the priest was ambushed and later kidnapped.

“It was on his way back from Izombe. These guys came out from the bush and ambushed them.

“There were about five people in the vehicle, including the priest, but one small boy among them in the vehicle escaped during the ambush.

“The hoodlums took the priest and the other three passengers away but at some point, they released the other three to take his car but they went away with the priest into the bush,” Mr Ogu said.

Mr Opara’s abduction came barely a week after gunmen kidnapped the priest of Christ the King Parish, Ezinachi/Ugwuago of the Diocese of Okigwe in Okigwe Local Government Area, Rev. Fr. Jude Maduka.

It would be recalled that Mr Maduka was kidnapped while preparing for the Eucharistic Mass celebration at his adoration ground.

A Catholic Priest of St. Paul’s Catholic Parish, Osu, in Isiala Mbano Local Government Area, Rev. Fr. Michael Asumogha, in Okigwe Catholic diocese was equally kidnapped in April and later released.