A Catholic priest, Rev. Fr. Paul Irikefe, who was abducted by unknown gunmen along the Benin bypass last Monday, has been released by his captors. THISDAY checks revealed that the priest regained freedom on Wednesday night, though it could not be ascertained whether ransom was paid. Fr. Irikefe, a lecturer with Saints Peter and Paul Catholic Major Seminary in Bodija, Ibadan, Oyo State, was kidnapped at Benin bye-pass in Edo State while on his way to attend the funeral of his colleague.

Security sources disclosed that the priest was left off the hook as undercover agents were closing in on the kidnappers. Another source in Warri Diocese also confirmed the priest’s release but was not sure whether the church paid the N30million ransom demanded by the abductors.

It was however gathered that the traumatised priest had reunited with the Bishop of Warri Diocese, Bishop John Okeoghene Afareha. The acting Administrator, Sacred Heart Cathedral, Catholic Diocese of Warri, Rev. Fr. Benedict Ukutegbe, confirmed that his colleague had been freed. He said the priest was released in Benin City, the Edo State capital.