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Nigerian priest shot dead after returning from pastoral duties

Father Charles Onomhoale Igechi, a Catholic priest, was shot dead after returning from pastoral duties in Nigeria's Archdiocese of Benin City on June 7.

Archbishop Augustine Obiora Akubeze of Benin City expressed, "With great shock, we received the news this morning that he was shot on his way back to his place of assignment on June 7, 2023, and his remains were found by Boundary Street in Ikpoba Hill, Ikpoba Okha Local Government Area, Edo State."

He added, "The appropriate security agency has been informed, and they are presently working on the case," and "We pray that the perpetrators of this evil act will be brought to justice." 

Father Onomhoale was ordained a priest on August 13, 2022, and the Nigerian Archbishop asked for prayers for his soul. "We, therefore, wish to solicit your prayers for his soul's repose."

Father Onomhoale served as Vice Principal of St. Michael College, Ikhueniro.

There was a funeral mass for Father Charles Onomhoale on June 9, 2023, in the Bishop Kelly pastoral center's chapel.

The local ordinary of Benin City Archdiocese said, "I entrust you all to our Lady of Sorrow's maternal intercession."

He stated, "May God continue to guide and protect all the faithful in the Archdiocese of Benin City, and may the soul of Father Charles Igechi finds peace and tranquillity in our risen Saviour's loving embrace. Amen."

A series of attacks targeting clergy members in Africa's most populous nation culminated in Father Onomhoale's murder on June 7.

It was reported that Father Stanislaus Mbamara, a Catholic priest from Nigeria's Nnewi Diocese, was abducted on June 2 and released later. On Pentecost Sunday, 2023, Father Matthias Opara, a priest from Nigeria's Catholic Archdiocese of Owerri, was kidnapped while returning from a funeral and later released.

The Nigerian Catholic priest serving in Okigwe Diocese, Father Jude Kingsley Maduka, was kidnapped on May 19 and released three days later.

There were 39 attacks, often linked to terrorism, in 2022 that killed at least four Nigerian Catholic priests and kidnapped at least 30 others.

President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, who was sworn in on May 29, has been urged by the leadership of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), as well as representatives of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Nigeria (CBCN), to put the security concerns and economic struggles of the people of God first.

Archbishop Daniel Chukwudumebi Okoh, the CAN president, said on May 29, "Nigeria is facing challenges that require strong and decisive leadership."

Archbishop Okoh added, "From security concerns to economic struggles, it is clear that there is much work to be done to ensure Nigeria can reach its full potential." -With inputs from the Association of Catholic Information of Africa (ACI Africa). 


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