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5/23/2024 Nigeria (International Christian Concern) The Rev. Basil Gbuzuo, a well-respected Catholic priest in the Onitsha Diocese of Anambra State, was kidnapped by unknown gunmen on Wednesday, May 15. The incident occurred around 8 a.m. along the Eke Nkpor-Obosi bypass, near Onitsha in Anambra state, in southeastern Nigeria.

Tochukwu Ikenga, the state’s police public relations officer, stated that the police had initiated a search for the abductors. The Anambra Police Command is actively working with eyewitnesses in the ongoing operation. Commissioner of Police, CP Nnaghe Obono Itam, has assured Catholic priests that the command remains dedicated to rescuing the priest and bringing the abductors to justice.

The Rev. Basil is a priest in residence at Holy Trinity Catholic Parish, Ogidi. The Catholic Archdiocese of Onitsha released a statement on his abduction, expressing sadness and hope for his release. The Rev. Valerian M. Okeke, the Metropolitan Archbishop of Onitsha, has invited Christians to pray for the Rev. Basil’s quick and safe release as police intensify efforts to ensure his freedom.

SB Morgen, a risk-assessment organization, released a report titled “The Economics of Nigeria’s Kidnap Industry 2023 Update.” It revealed that 21 Catholic priests were kidnapped in Nigeria between September 2022 and August 2023. The report highlighted that kidnappers view abducting clergy members from the Catholic Church as more profitable than targeting an average citizen due to the Church’s willingness to allocate resources for their release.

The data breakdown showed that at least five Catholic priests were abducted in Kaduna and three each in Benue, Edo, and Anambra states. Two were abducted in Imo and Delta States, and one each from Enugu, Ekiti, and Taraba.

Recent kidnap incidents in Anambra state include the abduction of the Rev. Joseph Igweagu on October 19, 2022, and the Rev. Stanislaus Mbamara on June 4, 2023. Earlier kidnappings include the abduction of the Rev. Emmanuel Ugwu on August 9, 2014, and the kidnapping of the rector of Tansi Major Seminary, the Rev. Dr. Emmanuel Dim, on September 26, 2016.

“Catholic priests in Nigeria face a lot of attacks and kidnappings in Nigeria,” an ICC staffer said. “In Northern Nigeria, Boko Haram are attacking Christians and clergymen. Christians suffer from attacks and abductions in Northwest Nigeria by Islamic “bandits,” while Fulani Islamic militias attack Christians in Northcentral Nigeria and the Middlebelt. These ongoing attacks have made it unsafe for Christians in Nigeria, including the Catholic priests, who travel to places to preach the gospel of Christ.”

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