The website of the Nigerian newspaper The Sun reported that the bishop was kidnapped "alongside his driver in his official car" and that the vehicle "was later returned to Assumpta roundabout, while the occupants were believed to have been taken to an unknown destination."
The bishops of Nigeria had urged prayer for the 53-year-old Chikwe's safety and release. Catholics in southern California had also been praying for the bishop's safe return. Chikwe served for several years as a priest in the Diocese of San Diego, before returning to his country.
Chikwe was ordained a priest on July 6, 1996, in Nigeria, after which he completed his master's degree in educational administration at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, and his PhD in education at UCLA. Fr. Chikwe served for six years as a priest in residence at St. Joseph's Cathedral in downtown San Diego and at the V.A. Hospital in La Jolla as chaplain; he also frequently said Mass at St. Mark's parish in San Marcos, Calif.
He returned to his home diocese where he became director of education and was ordained auxiliary bishop on Dec. 12, 2019.
In a Dec. 29 statement, Archbishop Anthony Obinna of Owerri urged "all Christ's faithful and people of goodwill" to disregard reports that kidnappers had killed Bishop Chicwe. "This information is unconfirmed, misleading and does not come from the Catholic Archdiocese of Owerri," he added.
Bishop Chikwe's abduction is the latest in a series of kidnappings that have targeted clergy in Nigeria, but previous abductions have involved priests and seminarians, not bishops.