Gunmen abduct Catholic priest in Benue

Suspected gunmen have kidnapped Otukpo Diocese Catholic priest, Reverend Father David Echioda in Otukpo area of Benue State.

The Catholic priest who hails from Oshugbudu in Agatu local government area of the state was kidnapped on his way from Untokom in Ado local government area of the state on Sunday.

A source who identified himself as Ankeli Amanyi told Tribune Online on the phone that Rev. Fr. Echioda who is of Otukpo Catholic Diocese was kidnapped along Alla- Akpa road while he was returning from where he had gone to conduct Sunday mass at Utonkon, Ado local government area of the state.

The source said that Rev. Fr Echioda who works with Minor Seminary Ochobo in Ohimini local government area of the state had gone to a parish in Ado local government area on that Sunday to conduct special mass in the area.

According to Amanyi, it was when the Rev. Fr was returning home from Ado in the afternoon that he ran into the gunmen who seized his phone and also took him with his car to an unknown destination.

Amanyi said, “Rev. Fr. Echioda was returning from Ado on Sunday and on reaching Alla-Akpa in Otukpo local government area, some boys stopped him, they first collected all his phones and immediately smashed them to pieces.

“Then one Okada rider (motorcyclist) who ran into the scene was forced to stop and was ordered to drive them with the father’s vehicle. It was while the Okada boy was trying to park his motorcycle that he jumped into the bush and escaped. It was the Okada boy that came to break the news to at the Bishop’s house in Otukpo.

“As I speak with you, the kidnappers are yet to open contact with anyone while his whereabouts is still unknown,” Amanyi said.

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When contacted, the Director of Information, Catholic Diocese, Otukpo, Rev. Fr. John Okopopu confirmed the abduction of the Rev. Fr to our correspondent.

He said that the Rev. Fr. was returning from a missionary work when he was kidnapped.

“It is true, the Rev Fr had gone to a parish that Sunday and on his was back at Alla-Akpa road, he ran into some men who kidnapped him.

” Unfortunately, the people (abductors) were yet to open contact with the family or anyone”, Fr. Okopopu said.

Also, when contacted, Benue Police Command spokesperson, Catherine Anene, a Deputy Superintendent of Police confirmed the abduction of the priest.

“Yes, I am confirming the kidnap of the priest”, and declined to speak further.

Recall that the vical general of the Catholic Diocese of Otukpo and priest in charge of St. Bernard Catholic church Ugwu Okpoga in Okpokwu local government area of the state, Rev.Fr John Adeyi was four years ago kidnapped and later killed by his abductors.

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