OWERRI, 30 December 2020 – Police in Nigeria confirmed Wednesday that they have launched a search and rescue operation for a Catholic Bishop who was abducted Sunday.
Unidentified gunmen abducted Bishop Moses Chikwe from the cathedral in the town of Owerri, capital of Imo State in eastern Nigeria.
News reports citing eyewitness accounts say the bishop’s vestments were abandoned near the Assumpta Cathedral where he serves.
Priests have been a choice target for kidnappings in Nigeria, especially in the country’s northeastern parts where Boko Haram militants have killed over 36,000 in attacks since 2009.
Vatican Radio on Wednesday decried kidnappings of any kind, slamming groups that target people for their ethnic, religious or national origin.
No fewer than 20 clergymen including at least eight Catholic Priests/Seminarians were hacked to death in the 57 months to August 2020.
No fewer than 50 were abducted or kidnapped, according to the Nigerian NGO, International Society for Civil Liberties and Rule of Law.
The report said that between 11,500 and 12,000 Christian deaths were recorded since June 2015 when the government of President Buhari was voted into power.
The report said Jihadist Fulani Herdsmen accounted for 7,400 Christian deaths. It attributed Boko Haram with killing 4,000 and “highway bandits” are blamed for between 150 to 200 Christian deaths.