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 Open Letter To Edo State Gov: Catholic Priests Are Endangered Species- Fr. Osemhantie
July 4, 2022

Open Letter To Edo State Gov: Catholic Priests Are Endangered Species- Fr. Osemhantie

A Catholic priest Fr. Osemhantie A. Okhueleigbe has written an open letter to Gov Godwin Obaseki on the siege to the church in Edo State that has led to the repeated killing, kidnapping of catholic priests by bandits operating from forests in Edo State.

I write as a humble member of the citizenry of Edo State.

I write as one of those whose passion brought you into power

I write as one who lives and toils for the body and soul of the people of Edo State.

I write as a bonafide member of the now most endangered class of persons in Edo State, the Catholic Priests. I write with a bleeding mind, a melting heart and an aching finger to tell you, my dear Governor, that right before your eyes, Edo citizens have become the most endangered specie in south-South Nigeria.

No one is absent-minded about how against all odds, the citizens of this state gave you their support, those you know not in person campaigned for you, those you will never see to say “thank you”, voted for you and for the first time in history, Edo people openly defended their votes, just to speak a word, “we are free beings who have right to choose our leader and “Godwin Obaseki” is our choice. Our sole vocabularies were “ogbene & 4+4”Our names are written in gold in Nigerian history as those whose mandate met the target but where has such boldness led us? To the hands of kidnappers. To the inferna nets of unchecked forest dwellers, whom we are accommodating under the disguise of peace, one wonders how to live peaceably with those whose psychology abhors peace and whose mentality denigrate tranquil coexistence.

You came with an agenda to ” Making Edo Great Again” which means it was once Great! Today, how great is it under your watch! Things in totality have fallen apart. We have all turned to refugees, we live in our homes but with a Babylonian mentality. We are singing the songs of exile in our fatherland.

The Catholic church is known not only for piety but for dexterity and tenacity. Thus, she has never asked for _provision but for protection_ and where are we now?

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The worst is already happening, from the raping of women, through the destruction of the indigenes’ means of livelihoods, to the daring attempt to install a leader and the open bloodletting at the slightest provocations; amidst hostage taking of the intra-state cum interstate travellers, it has become established, there is an endangered specie at the moment, that is, the Catholic PRIESTS.

Roll Call Of Catholic Priests Kidnapped/Killed By Bandits In Edo

*It may be necessary to refresh your mind: Rev. Fr. Edwin Omorogbe, Rev. Fr. Idahosa Amadasun, Rev. Fr. Stephen Dubiri & Revd Fr. Joseph Ediae of the Archdiocese of Benin city, still nurse the physical and mental injuries inflicted on them by the masqurading and impolite class of kidnappers. As if the above is too few, Revd. Fr. Nicholas Oboh, Rev. Fr. Augustine Akhogba, Rev. Fr. Martin Umhanhonlen are still under treatment and rehabilitation scheme.

Outrage Over Continued Killing Of Catholic Priests

All these live within the Esan region of the state. Perhaps, they are too close to Benin city by geographical ascription, that could be their offence, then, think of those priests working in Edo North, the likes of Rev. Fr. Isaac Agabi, Rev. Fr. Lawrence Adorolo and just a week ago Rev. Fr. Christopher Odia, was kidnapped from his rectory and in less than 12hours, he was murdered. Where on earth do they pick the sacred and consecrated bodies of Priests on the road and on bush paths, but Edo State! Yet, with a living and active government. May God judge those who murdered him and those who failed to protect him and the citizens of the state. As I write you this letter, Rev Fr. Peter Udo and Rev. Fr. Philemon Oboh are in the den of kidnappers. Suffering all the ills of inclement weather and the barbarity of their abductors. Their offence, perhaps, is not taking flight from Uromi to Benin City! Your guess is as bad as mine, since nothing is good at the moment, not even our guesses*.

As a Church and as Catholic Priests, we beg to be told who we have offended and when; and I assure you of our collective willingness to apologize. What ill have we done for giving the people hope amidst aridity?

As priests, we left our homes, we gave up our right to familyhood, free travels and opulent life, we made our selves the servants of everyone and in obedience work in where the averagely educated citizen will not, despite our decade of training in schools? We earn nothing from the state whether as salary, wages or even as pension or gratuity.

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We truly have nothing, even the local Churches we labour to construct do not belong to us but the people. Certainly, the loftiest asset we have is our VOCATION! Could that be the fault for which we are being hunted daily for knowing God, if that is, it will be easier to ask for an extended portion from the state for the interment of priests, as the present priest cemeteries will soon be filled up, than to renounce our faith in God Almighty!

Gov Obaseki Must Act To Save Catholic Priests In Edo State

Dear Governor Obaseki, and by extension, Dear Honorable Phillip Shaibu! What is the problem? Is Auchi-Benin road too long for the state to provide adequate security for? Ordinarily, we are told, a problem known is half solved. Perhaps, you may not be aware, the Problem is Insecurity, the route is Benin-Ekpoma-Auchi road, the context is Edo State, the Victims are Catholic Priests, the perpetuators are herdsmen, the one who has failed to protect the victims is the Government of Edo state led by you, my dear Gov. Godwin Obaseiki.

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Once more, what is the problem? Are you able but unwilling, then, wake up? Are you willing but unable, then call for external help, and are you willing and able, but not desirous of the good, then, give citizens of Edo State right to acquire arms and protect themselves.

No doubt, I am not asking to be placed in charge, but i know what a well managed system looks like. I trust this paper will prompt you to act but if it fails, soon, as a people, we might be exterminated and what will be left will be the kidnappers and your government. We have the capacity to repudiate the son of Jesse and his dynasty and as its stands, it will may not be our last resort.

Thanks sincerely

*Fr. Osemhantie A. OKHUELEIGBE*

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