The Catholic Church in Nigeria has again cried out over the abduction of its priest, Gabriel Oyaka, who was kidnapped along Okene-Lokoja road in September, 2015.
Mr. Oyaka, a priest from the Holy Ghost congregation of the church, was abducted after he left the house of the congregation in Katampe extension, an Abuja suburb, on transit to Onitsha, Anambra State, on September 7, 2015.
Addressing journalists on Mr. Oyaka’s abduction, leaders of the church from the Holy Ghost congregation in Abuja said on Thursday that they were still hopeful that the priest would return to the church.
The Catholic Bishop of Abuja archdiocese, John Onaiyekan, who spoke on behalf of the church leaders, lamented the failure of security agencies to secure the victim’s release. He stressed that the problem of insecurity in Nigeria leaves much to be expected from security operatives.
“On the 7th of September, 2015, Father Gabriel Oyaka left the house of the Congregation of the Holy Ghost located at Katampe Extension, Abuja, on transit to Onitsha, Anambra State. However, Father Gabriel never arrived at his destination, and nothing was heard from him. Upon investigation by the Nigerian Police Force, it was reported that his car was found intact by the roadside, with his cell phone in the car, but he was nowhere to be found. His car was then moved to the police station in Okene, Kogi State.
“We mark 7th of September as the day of his disappearance, and it is a sad remembrance for the Holy Ghost Fathers of the Province of Nigeria North West – and indeed the entire Roman Catholic Church.
“However, our longing for his return to us has remained undaunted. It is the resilience of our collective spirit that motivates us to convene this press conference.”
Speaking during an earlier exclusive interview with PREMIUM TIMES, Mr. Onaiyekan said during the past year, the church experienced many cases of abduction of catholic priests, but added that most of those kidnapped were released; except for two.
“The vast majority of the priests who were kidnapped were released. We presently have the case of one priest who was kidnapped over a year ago, which we have no information about. And the kidnappers have never called for any ransom.
“We also have the case of the vicar general of Otukpo who was kidnapped, he died in their hands and they dumped his body in the bush. But about three or four weeks later, his body was found.”
Mr. Onaiyekan said a lot needs to be done by security operatives to ensure the protection of lives and property in Nigeria.
He said although the church had announced shortly after the kidnap that a Catholic priest was abducted; a press conference on the said kidnap became necessary, given the worrisome silence of the kidnappers who abducted the priest.
He called on Nigerians to pray for Mr. Oyaka and all other abductees held by kidnappers, across Nigeria, as well as for the peace of the country.