A Catholic Priest was kidnapped and then killed in Nigeria Late Friday night, September 1. Rev. Cyriacus Onunkwo, of the diocese of Orlu, Imo state was driving through the town Friday night, when he was stopped, pulled from his car and taken off. Later the next day, his body was found in bushes near the neighboring town of Omuma. There was nothing missing from his car and no ransom demands were ever delivered. The police are not sure who the gunmen were nor why they kidnapped the pastor, but it continues an increasing trend in Christians being attacked in Southern Nigeria.
2017-09-06 Nigeria (MorningStarNews) A Catholic priest who was kidnapped in southeastern Nigeria on Friday (Sept. 1), was found dead on Saturday, sources said.
Gunmen dragged the Rev. Cyriacus Onunkwo, of the diocese of Orlu, Imo state, from his car in the town of Orlu, Imo state, and the next day police found his body in the wilds near the neighboring town of Omuma, police and church leaders told Morning Star News. His abductors contacted no one about a ransom, they said.
“The priest was abducted on Friday morning while he was driving in the town, and yesterday [Saturday] in the morning, the police notified us that his body has been found,” the Rev. Augustine Tochukwu Ukwuoma, bishop of Orlu Diocese, told Morning Star News by phone.
Chris Ezike, commissioner of police of the Imo State Command, told Morning Star News that the motive did not appear to be robbery. The police chief said the car belonging to the priest was found and no items were missing.
“On Saturday morning, a corpse was found in the bush,” he said. “Church leaders were called, and they identified the corpse as that of the priest. Nothing is missing in his car. Investigation will continue until we find his killers.”
While the diocese is reportedly more than 70 percent Catholic, Imo state is wracked by corruption and crime.
The abduction was the second case of abduction of a Catholic priest in Imo state this summer. On June 16, the Rev. Charles Nwachukwu was kidnapped at gunpoint at about 8 p.m. in Amauzari town, Isiala Mbano Local Government Area (LGA). He was held in a forest in Agbaja, in the Nwangele LGA of Imo state, until he was rescued two days later.
Onunkwo, a native of Osina, Imo state, was ordained on Nov. 29, 2003.
Attacks on Christians have become increasingly common in southern Nigeria. At least 11 people were killed in Anambra state on Aug. 6 in an attack on a Catholic church service apparently rooted in a conflict with a relative of one of the parishioners, authorities said. At least 18 others were injured in the shooting at St. Philip’s Catholic Church in Amakwa Ozobulu, near Onitsha of Ekwusigo LGA, a state official said.