Idris Ahmed, Lokoja.
The Catholic Diocese of Lokoja has confirmed the abduction of one of its Priests, Rev. Fr. Christopher Itopa Onotu from his residence at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Catholic Church Obangede, Okehi Local Government Area of Kogi state.
A statement signed by Rev. Fr Augustine Okechukwu Okafor, the Diocesan Chancellor, Lokoja Diocese, explained that as the Parishioners who gathered for the Pentecost Sunday Mass in the morning waited for the arrival of the Priest, but could not show up, some of them went up to his residence
“The Parishioners discovered that the windows and doors to the room of the Priest were broken, his room scattered and his Car and SIM cards taken away”, the statement said.
More shocking to the Parishioners was the discovery of his car at a location where it has already been recovered without any sign of the Priest in or around the car.
According to the statement, the Church has not received any information from the abductors to know their demands.
“This sad event has shown clearly that the security architecture of our dear state is weak and in need of urgent attention. As it is now, we rely only on God for security, because the government has continued to fail in her responsibility to secure human lives and property”, Rev Okafor started.
While condemning the kidnap of the Priest in the strongest terms, demanding his immediate release, the Church equally calls on the Government of Kogi State to strengthen security, following the events of the past three weeks in Kabba and Okene.
He thinks that the frequent attacks and killings of innocent citizens including security men show that the security apparatus in the state has been compromised.
The Diocese, therefore, calls on Parishioners, the Clergy, and the Religious to be more security conscious and prayerfully remain with the Church in these trying times.
Rev Fr Okafor prayed that God gives the security agencies the wisdom and determination to secure the release of FR. Christopher Itopa Onotu.
When contacted the Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), ASP William Aya, confirmed the incident assuring that the police and other security agencies have embarked on a trail of the criminals to rescue the Priest alive