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May was marked by dramatic events for the Catholic Church in Nigeria, with the kidnapping of two priests, Father Basil Gbuzuo and Father Oliver Buba. Their release, on May 23 and May 30 respectively, brought immense relief to their communities and highlighted the joint efforts of authorities and citizens to combat the growing insecurity in certain regions of the country.

Father Basil Gbuzuo, a priest of the Diocese of Onitsha, was kidnapped on May 15 on the Eke Nkpor-Obosi bypass, causing a shockwave among his faithful and within the Church. On May 23, around midnight, his captors finally abandoned him near Ufuma. He was taken in by Father Alex Ezema, the parish priest of the Holy Cross Church in Ufuma.

In a statement filled with joy and gratitude, reported by the correspondent of RECOWA CERAO NEWS AGENCY (RECONA) based in Nigeria, the Diocese of Onitsha announced his release, emphasizing the importance of prayers and community support. The Metropolitan Archbishop of Onitsha, Msgr. Valerian Okeke, expressed his gratitude to the authorities of Anambra State and all those who contributed to this release. The press secretary to the Governor of Anambra State, Christian Aburime, commended the joint efforts of the state security team and well-meaning citizens.

The government of Anambra State reiterated its commitment to ensuring the safety and release of all individuals held in captivity. A firm warning was issued to criminals, reminding them that the law would be rigorously enforced. However, an offer of rehabilitation and reintegration into society remains open to those who wish to abandon criminal activities.

A few days after Father Gbuzuo’s release, another good news arrived: Father Oliver Buba, kidnapped on May 21 in Adamawa State, regained his freedom on May 30. Msgr. Stephen Dami Mamza, Bishop of Yola, announced this news with great emotion, thanking all those who prayed and expressed their solidarity during this difficult period.

Father Buba had been kidnapped in the refectory of the Santa Rita Parish rectory at around one in the morning. His release in the early hours of May 30 was a moment of joy for the Diocese of Yola. Msgr. Mamza expressed his gratitude on behalf of the priests, religious, and laity of the diocese, imploring the Lord’s blessing and peace for all those who showed their support.

The release of Fathers Basil Gbuzuo and Oliver Buba represents a significant success in the fight against kidnappings in Nigeria but also underscores the persistent security challenges. These events highlight the need for continued collaboration between authorities, local communities, and citizens to ensure the safety of all.

The messages of gratitude and solidarity expressed by ecclesiastical leaders remind us of the importance of prayer and community support during times of crisis. The renewed commitment of the Anambra State government to combat crime and offer rehabilitation opportunities to potential criminals is an important step towards a safer and more peaceful society.