By Godwin Utuedoye,
FOUR Catholic priests were on Tuesday, November 6, 2018 kidnapped at Urhonigbe road Edo State by suspected Fulani Herdsmen who appeared from the bush with guns firing at the priests vehicle sporadically and later abducted four priests before fleeing into the bush with them.
The kidnapped priests include Rev. Fr. Emmanuel Obadjere, of the Catholic diocese of Warri. Others include Reverend Fathers Joseph Ediae of Benin-City Archdiocese, Victor Adigbolija of Ijebu-Ode diocese and Anthony Otegbola of Abeokuta diocese. Two among the priests as gathered, are from the Catholic Archdiocese of Benin while the other is from the Catholic diocese of Abeokuta.
A source close to the church authority, but strictly confidence told Advocate Newspaper that the priests who were on their way to the Major Seminary of All Saints Uhiele-Ekpoma in Edo State for an Alumni meeting, had earlier attended a classmate meeting of the priests held at one of the Catholic parishes in Orerokpe, Delta State when their convoy was intercepted between Urhonigbe in Edo State by suspected fulani herdsmen.
According to an account given by one of the priests who managed to escaped from the killer herdsmen but had his car damaged, stated that as they approached and climed the railway immediately after Abraka, two fierced looking armed men appeared from the bush in front of them with guns and immediately opened fire at them.
He said; “They just came out from the bush and our car was at the front of the convoy because some of us didn’t know the route, and because we were not on speed, we try to apply brake but said as the armed men were shotting and coming closer. He noted that one of the priests among them in the car, encouraged the one on wheel to drive past them while the rest of them lie low in the car. That was how we drove past them and one other of our colleague also followed but the others were not as lucky as we only saw their cars”.
Continuing he said; they drove to a distance from the scene before stopping and also stop oncoming vehicles before the arrival of the police, army and the road safety whom he said took them to the scene of the attack, but reaching there, they only saw two of their colleagues cars.
Meanwhile, police have arrested one Fulani man in connection with the abduction and currently at police custody.
When contacted, the PPRO, Delta State Police Command, Andrew Aniamaka confirmed the incident, but said the crime didn’t happened in Delta but Edo, but assured that both the police in Edo and Delta are doing everything possible to ensure that the priests were released without hurt.
Within the past months, priests and religious of the Catholic Church has become victims and targets of hoodlums as priests and Reverend Sisters are often kidnapped in Edo and Delta State respectively.
It could be recalled that Rev. Fr. Christopher Ogaga, a Catholic priest of Warri diocese was kidnapped mid October, while Rev. Fr. Dr. Louis Odudu was also kidnapped same week but died four days later due to the trauma and shock of the incident after he regained his freedom. Just last weeks, some Catholics Nuns were kidnapped somewhere in Ogboru Delta State with series of priests also kidnapped at Issele-Uku.