Amidst misleading reports, priests and congregants in Southern California are to offer prayers for the safe return of Bishop Moses Chikwe, the auxiliary bishop of Owerri Archdiocese in Nigeria, who was reportedly kidnapped on Sunday night.
Confirming the Bishop’s abduction, Archbishop of Owerri, His Grace Archbishop Anthony Obinna said the priest was kidnapped on the 27th December, 2020 and since then, there has not been any form of communication from the kidnappers.
Bishop Chikwe who served for several years in the Diocese of San Diego as a priest before returning to his country was ordained a priest on July 6, 1996, in Nigeria, and also frequently performed Mass at St. Mark’s parish in San Marcos, California.
In a statement released on December 29, the Archbishop of Owerri Anthony Obinna urged all Christ’s faithful and people of goodwill to disregard reports that kidnappers had killed Bishop Moses Chikwe.
“This information is unconfirmed, misleading and does not come from the Catholic Archdiocese of Owerri,” he added.
According to reports from Catholic News Agency, a priest in California, Fr. Orsborn had sent an urgent email to all St. Mark’s parishioners, announcing a time of special prayer at St Mark’s on behalf of Bishop Moses Chikwe.
The prayer service is expected to be held on Sunday, January 3 2021 at 2:30 pm.
Police confirm the kidnap of Bishop in Owerri
Following the Kidnap of Bishop Moses Chikwe, the Imo state Police command has confirmed the kidnap of the auxiliary Bishop of Owerri Archdiocese in Imo State.
The Police Public Relations Officer in the state, Orlando Ikeokwu, noted that the Commissioner of Police in Imo State, CP Isaac Akinmoyede upon receiving the report of the case, has set in motion the command’s Quick Intervention Team (QUIT) and the Anti-Kidnapping Unit (AKU), to ensure that the Bishop is rescued safely and possibly arrest the hoodlums behind his kidnap.
Chikwe, the auxiliary bishop of Owerri archdiocese, was kidnapped alongside his driver by unidentified gunmen on the evening of Sunday, Dec. 27, in Owerri, the capital of Imo State in southeastern Nigeria.
The kidnapped Bishop is expected to take over from Archbishop Anthony Obinna who has just retired.
Multiple news sources report that the bishop’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.