Kidnapped Missionary Freed in Nigeria
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Father Marcellus Nwaohuocha, a member of the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate who was abducted on June 17 from Nigeria's Jos Archdiocese, has been released. In a statement on June 20, Father Peter Klaver, the superior of the order in Nigeria, confirmed Nwaohuocha's freedom from captivity. However, he revealed that the priest had endured torture, resulting in severe head wounds.
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Expressing gratitude to God for Nwaohuocha's release, Father Klaver disclosed that the priest was set free during the night of June 19â€"20 and is currently receiving treatment at a hospital. The circumstances surrounding his release and the identity of his captors have not been made public.
Father Nwaohuocha was kidnapped when a group of armed gunmen stormed St. Paul Bomo Parish in the Archdiocese of Jos, where he serves as a parish priest. Tragically, the assailants also shot the parish security guard, who succumbed to his injuries while being transported to the hospital.
Father Klaver, in his statement, called for prayers for the deceased security guard and the complete recovery of Father Nwaohuocha's health. He emphasized the need to pray for the repose of the guard's soul and offered condolences to the grieving family he left behind.
The abduction and subsequent release of Father Nwaohuocha mark the latest in a series of targeted kidnappings affecting clergy, seminarians, and Christians in Nigeria, the country with the highest population in Africa.
Prior to Nwaohuocha's kidnapping, Father Jeremiah Yakubu of Kafanchan Diocese was abducted on June 11 but later released. Additionally, Father Charles Onomhoale Igechi from the Archdiocese of Benin City was fatally shot on June 7 while returning from pastoral duties, just before his first anniversary as a priest.
Another incident involved Father Stanislaus Mbamara of Nigeria's Nnewi Diocese, who was kidnapped on June 2 but subsequently released.
The Christian Association of Nigeria officials have appealed to President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, who took office on May 29, to prioritize the security concerns and economic struggles faced by the nation's faithful.
Rev. Daniel Okoh emphasized the urgent need for strong and decisive leadership in Nigeria, addressing issues ranging from security concerns to economic hardships that hinder the country's progress.
Bishop Matthew Hassan Kukah of Nigeria's Sokoto Diocese also urged the new president to address the wounds and injuries suffered by Nigerians, emphasizing the importance of healing and understanding the underlying causes.
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