Barely one week after the abduction and murder of Rev. Fr. Christopher Odia-Ogedegbe, parish priest of St. Michael Catholic Church, Ikabigbo, Uzairue in Etsako West local government area of Edo State by killer herdsmen, two other priests have also been kidnapped in the state on Saturday.
The Priests, Rev. Father Udo Peter, of St. Patrick Catholic Church, Uromi, and and Philemon Oboh, of St. Joseph Retreat Centre, Ugboha, both of the Catholic Diocese of Uromi, were said to be returning to Uromi in Esan North East local government area of the state from Benin when they were abducted along the notorious Auchi-Benin road.
TELL gathered that the duo had attended a programme in Benin City earlier on the day and hung back to base when they ran into an ambush by some unknown gunmen who opened fire on their car.
It was further learnt that the gunmen suspected to be Fulani herdsmen, after forcing the car to stop, took away the priests into the bush.
Confirming the incident, the Edo State Police Command, in a statement by its public relations officer, Chidi Nwanbuzor, superintendent of police, SP, said it was informed of the incident by the Divisional Police Officer, Ugboha, Edo State, “that on Sunday 03/07/2022, one Rev. Father Amos Abhulimen of St. Dominic Catholic Church, Ugboha reported that he was informed by the Catholic authority via WhatsApp that the above named Catholic Rev. Fathers were attacked, kidnapped and taken to unknown place by some kidnappers along Benin-Auchi Expressway between EHOR and IRUEKPEN Communities”.
According to Nwanbuzor, “Immediately, the Commissioner Of Police Edo State, CP Abutu Yaro, fdc dispatched Police Operatives to the area and warned to carry out aggressive and well coordinated manhunt in arresting the kidnappers and for the rescuing of the Rev. Fathers unhurt. The CP solicits for the cooperation of the general public in giving information to the Police and other sister security agencies in Policing Edo State”.
Meanwhile, the family of late Fr. Odia-Ogedegbe, killed last week by his abductors, has refuted media reports of the death of his mother, Philomena Odia Ogedegbe.
In a statement signed by the late Priest’s elder brother, Robert Ogedegbe, the family said contrary to the false report, their mother was healthy and mourning her son.
The statement also debunked the report that one Kebiru, the arrested Fulani man who reportedly masterminded the kidnap and killing of their son, was his gardener or gateman.
Ogedegbe said “We however wish to set the records straight that the said Kebiru was neither Fr. Christopher’s gardener nor gateman, but was only living in the same Ikabigbo Community where our son/brother was pastoring the Catholic faithful as Priest”.
There had been no official statement yet from the Auchi Diocese of the Catholic Church on the latest kidnap incident.
Meanwhile, arrangements are ongoing for the burial of Odia- Ogedegbe on Friday July 8, 2022 at Priests’ Cemetery, Immaculate Conception Minor Seminary, Ivianokpodi-Agenebode, Etsako North East local government area of the state.