By Peter Okolie
Owerri, May 29, 2023
A Catholic Priest, Rev. Fr. Mathias Opara, who was kidnapped by gunmen last Friday in Imo has regained freedom.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) gathered that Opara, popularly known as Owu Ujo, was released by his abductors late Sunday night.
He was kidnapped along Ejemekwuru- Ogbaku road between Oguta and Mbaitoli Local Government Areas of Imo while returning to Owerri.
He was said to have participated in the funeral ceremony of a colleague’s father at Izombe community in the Oguta Local Government Area and was heading to Owerri when he was abducted.
A source, who pleaded anonymity said, Opara, who is in charge of Man of Order and Discipline of the Catholic Archdiocese of Owerri, was released unharmed.
However, the source could not ascertain if any ransom was paid for Opara’s release.
“Details surrounding his release are sketchy for now, but the important thing is that he has been released,” the sourced stated.
Confirming Opara’s release by his abductors, the Police command’s spokesman, ASP Henry Okoye said the command would not rest on its oars in ensuring that the culprits were brought to justice.
“The priest was released as a result of the pressure mounted on the criminals by our operatives who were on undercover operation.
“The command is trailing their track to possibly arrest them because we will not allow criminals to take over the state,” Okoye said.
NAN recalls that Opara’s abduction and release came barely two weeks after gunmen kidnapped the Priest of Christ the King Parish, Ezinachi/Ugwuago of the Diocese of Okigwe in Okigwe Local Government Area, Rev. Fr. Jude Maduka.
It would be recalled that Maduka was kidnapped while preparing for the Eucharistic Mass celebration at his adoration ground.
A Catholic Priest of St. Paul’s Catholic Parish, Osu, in Isiala Mbano Local Government Area, Rev. Fr. Michael Asumogha, in Okigwe Catholic diocese was equally kidnapped in April and later released.