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Gunmen abduct Catholic Priest, keep mum over ransom

Godwin Akor, Makurdi

Suspected gunmen on Sunday kidnapped a priest of Otukpo Catholic Diocese, Reverend Father David Echioda, at Alan-Akpa in Otukpo local government area of Benue State.

Echioda who hails from Oshugbudu in Agatu local government area of the state was  kidnapped on his way from Utonkon  in Ado local government area of the state on Sunday.

A source who identified himself as  Ankeli Amanyi told The Nigerian Xpress on the phone that Rev. Fr.  Echioda who is of Otukpo Catholic Diocese was  kidnapped at Alan-Akpa while he was returning from Utonkon where he had gone to conduct 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 unknown destination.

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“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 Bishop Michael Apochi in Otukpo.

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

When contacted, the  Director of Information, Catholic Diocese of Otukpo, Rev. Fr. John Okopopu, confirmed the abduction of his colleague. 

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

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

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

When contacted,  Benue State Police Command  spokesperson, Catherine Serwuese Anene, a Deputy Superintendent of Police,  confirmed the abduction of the priest.

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

It would be recalled that the vicar 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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