Nigerian priest dies shortly after being kidnapped

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The flag of Nigeria. Credit: Labrador Photo Video/Shutterstock.

A Catholic priest in Nigeria died Sept. 19, just days after escaping from kidnappers, according to local media reports. The exact cause of his death has not yet been made public.

Fr. Louis Odudu was kidnapped Sept. 14 and released the next day, according to the Diocese of Warri, although there are some reports that he escaped. Four days later, Fr. Odudu reportedly complained of pain before being taken to the hospital where he died. Whether or not he died as a result of injuries sustained during his kidnapping ordeal has not been made public by the diocese.

The Nigerian Daily Post reports that five Catholic priests have been abducted in the southern Nigerian state of Delta in 2018 alone.

Fr. Odudu was chaplain of the Seat of Wisdom Catholic Chaplaincy at the Petroleum Training Institute, a training school for the oil and gas industry located in the port city of Warri. Ordained in 1987, Fr. Odudu had been on sabbatical for two years in the United Kingdom before returning to his home diocese in 2018. He was assigned to the chaplaincy about two months before his kidnapping and death.

Members of the Diocese of Warri were already mourning the death of Fr. Stephen Ekakabor, who died in early September following a brain injury sustained during an armed invasion of his rectory in 2017. Members of the diocese were reportedly holding prayer vigils for Fr. Ekakabor on the day of Fr. Odudu’s death.

The governor of Delta State, Ifeanyi Okowa, offered his condolences Sept. 21 to the Bishop of Warri and condemned the “renewed onslaught against Catholic priests and clergymen, assuring that Government will work closely with security agencies to arrest the ugly trend,” according to the diocese.

The Nigerian bishops speak out frequently to criticize the government for being slow to act in the face of violence against Nigerians for religious and political reasons.

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