Nigerian priest freed after torture, hospitalized with ‘deep wounds on his head’

Father Marcellus Nwaohuocha Father Marcellus Nwaohuocha was freed from captivity in the Archdiocese of Jos in Nigeria June 20, 2023. | Credit: OMI

Father Marcellus Nwaohuocha of the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate, who was kidnapped on June 17 from Nigeria’s Jos Archdiocese, has been freed. 

In a June 20 statement shared with ACI Africa, CNA’s partner news agency in Africa, the superior of the order in Nigeria, Father Peter Klaver, announced Nwaohuocha’s release from captivity after having been tortured, adding that he “has deep wounds on his head.”

Klaver expressed gratitude to God for the release “of our confrere Father Marcellus,” whom he said was released the night of June 19–20 and is currently in the hospital for treatment.

Nwaohuocha was kidnapped when unidentified gunmen stormed St. Paul Bomo Parish in the Archdiocese of Jos, where he serves as a parish priest.

The kidnappers shot the parish security guard, who died on the way to the hospital.

In his June 20 statement, Klaver appealed for prayers for the soul of the late security guard and for the complete healing of Nwaohuocha. 

“Let us pray for the full recovery of his health and for the repose of the soul of the deceased, who leaves [behind] a family [wife and children],” he said.

The kidnapping and release of Nwaohuocha is the latest in a series of abductions that have targeted members of the clergy, seminarians, and other Christians in Africa’s most populous nation.

On June 11, Father Jeremiah Yakubu, a priest of Kafanchan Diocese, was kidnapped and later released.

On June 7, Father Charles Onomhoale Igechi, a member of the clergy of the Archdiocese of Benin City who was set to mark his first anniversary as a priest on Aug. 13, was shot dead while returning from pastoral duties.

On June 2, Father Stanislaus Mbamara, a priest ministering in Nigeria’s Nnewi Diocese, was kidnapped and later set free.

Officials of the Christian Association of Nigeria have urged President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, who was sworn in on May 29, to prioritize the security concerns and the economic struggles of the people of God in the West African nation.

“Nigeria is facing a number of challenges that require strong and decisive leadership. From security concerns to economic struggles, it is clear that there is much work to be done in order to ensure that Nigeria can reach its full potential," Rev. Daniel Okoh said May 29.

On May 27, Bishop Matthew Hassan Kukah of Nigeria’s Sokoto Diocese called upon the new president of Nigeria to identify what is behind the “scars, wounds and injuries” of Nigerians even as he prioritizes their healing.

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