By Amos Aar
THE chaplain in charge of St. Mary’s Hospital, Okpoga in Okpokwu local government area of Benue State, Rev. Fr. Mark Ojotu, has been kidnaped by yet to be identified gunmen.
According to a statement signed by the Diocesan Chancellor, Rev. Fr. Joseph Aboyi Itodo, the victim, Fr. Mark Ojotu, was kidnapped along Okpoga-Ojapo Road in Okpokwu local government area of Benue State on Thursday, 22nd December, 2022.
Fr. Itodo said the Bishop of Otukpo Catholic Diocese, Most Rev. Michael Ekwoyi Apochi, is soliciting the Catholic community and other Christian faithful to include Fr. Ojotu in their prayers for his safe and quick release.
Fr Itodo in the statement entitled, “Kidnap of Rev. Fr. Mark Ojotu,” states: “We write to inform you of the kidnap of one of our priests, Rev. Fr. Mark Ojotu. He is the Chaplain of St Mary’s Hospital, Okpoga. The sad event occurred today, 22nd December, 2022 at about 5.000pm along Okpoga-Ojapo road, Okpokwu LGA of Benue State.
“The Local Ordinary, Most Rev. Michael Ekwoyi Apochi, has called on all Christ’s faithful in the Catholic Diocese of Otukpo and beyond to earnestly pray for his safe and quick release as we intensify efforts to ensure his release.
“We [commit] our brother and all those in the kidnappers’ den throughout the country to the powerful intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary for their speedy and safe release from the hands of their abductors.”
There is so much panic in the area as residents recall that the late Vicar General of the Catholic Diocese of Otukpo, Rev. Fr. John Adeyi, was kidnapped in 2016 at Odoba Village along the busy Otukpo-Enugu Road after mediating in a crisis between parishioners and the parish priest of Odoba.
The decomposing body of Fr. Adeyi, who was killed by his abductors in their den, was reportedly found behind the office complex of Ogbadibo Local Government Education Authority at Otukpa, his home town, in June, 2016 by security personnel combing the area.
Residents and the faithful of the Catholic Diocese of Otukpo are therefore praying that Fr Mark Ojotu’s case be different from that of the late Fr. Adeyi.