Rev. Cyriacus Onunkwo was found murdered over the Labor Day weekend after being kidnapped near his home in Orlu, Imo state in Southeastern Nigeria on Friday.
Gunmen attacked the African Catholic priest as he was leaving his car, Morning Star News reports. His body was found in the brush near the neighboring town of Omuma. His kidnappers asked for no ransom demand after they abducted him.
Rev. Augustine Tochukwu Ukwuoma, a bishop of Orlu Diocese, told the press, “The priest was abducted on Friday morning while he was driving in the town, and yesterday [Saturday] in the morning, the police notified us that his body has been found.”
Imo State Police Commissioner Chris Ezike explained in a statement that he did not believe the motive was robbery. He said, “On Saturday morning, a corpse was found in the bush.” The police chief added, “Church leaders were called, and they identified the corpse as that of the priest. Nothing is missing in his car. Investigation will continue until we find his killers.”
Onunkwo was ordained on November 29, 2003. He was from Osina, Imo state, where the majority of citizens are practicing Catholics.
According to Morning Star News, this is the second kidnapping of a Christian minister during the month of August.
Rev. Jen Tivkaa Moses, a leader within the Evangelical Church Winning All, was kidnapped along a highway while in transit from Jos to Abuja in Plateau state. His kidnappers were thought to be gunmen working with Fulani herdsmen who are trying to steal property in Nigeria.
ECWA leaders accused the regional police of corruption and called out the Nigerian government for not assisting in rescuing the pastor. They stated, “Considering the short distance between the police checkpoint and the spot in which the pastor and other passengers were attacked by the kidnappers, one would have expected a swift response by the police to rescue them, but unfortunately they were helplessly abandoned in the hands of the kidnappers.”
Moses was released after only five days in captivity. Onunkwo was not so fortunate.