BY EMEKA MAMAH, with agency report
The Parish Priest of St Theresa’s Catholic Church, Onicha Enugu Ezike in Igboeze North Local Government Area of Enugu State, Rev. Father Chijioke Amoke, who was kidnapped last week by unknown gunmen, has been released by his captors.
Amoke, who said he was blindfolded and humiliated by his kidnappers throughout his captivity, was dropped off, Wednesday night, at Orba Junction, Obollo Afor, in Udenu Local Government Area where a police patrol team picked him up.
The priest returned to his parish house as his parishioners were observing a night of vigil and praying fervently for his release amid wild jubilation that was heralded with 50 gun shots.
A herbalist and native of same Onicha Enugu-Ezike, Roland Iyidah, who was kidnapped at the near-by Ogurute village by the kidnappers as they were taking the priest to their hideout was not so lucky as he was killed by his abductors Tuesday night.
Those who saw the corpse told Vanguard that the kidnappers shot him severally in the head, stomach and chest and later dumped his corpse at the premises of Anglican Church in Uda, from where it was taken to the Enugu Ezike General Hospital morgue by the police on Tuesday morning.
In a telephone interview with the News Agency of Nigeria, NAN, in Enugu yesterday, Enugu State Commissioner of Police, Mr Danazumi Doma, confirmed Rev. Fr. Amoke’s release. He said the abductors released the priest unharmed on Wednesday night.
When contacted, Rev. Fr. Simeon Ugwueze, Chairman of Justice and Peace Commission, Nsukka Diocese also confirmed the release.
He said that Amoke was released by his abductors at Obollo-Afor, in Udenu Local Government Area of Enugu, where a police patrol team picked him up.
“The abducted priest was released by his abductors around 9p.m. on Wednesday night. The priest is in his parish in Onitsha-Enugu-Ezike.
“We give God all the honour and adoration that made it possible for the abductors to release Amoke.
“The Catholic Diocese of Nsukka is grateful to all who joined us in prayers to ensure the release of the kidnapped priest.
“We are especially grateful to journalists, who in their various publications condemned the targeting of a priest serving in the vineyard of God, for kidnap,”he said.
Earlier, a High Mass was held on Wednesday in Nsukka by the dioceses seeking God’s intervention for the release of the priest.
It was not clear whether the N10 million ransom demanded by the abductors was paid but the diocese had insisted that it will not pay anything to facilitate the release of the priest.