News media in Spain are reporting that a 58-year-old Spanish doctor who works for a clinic belonging to a foundation financially supported by the Catholic institution “Opus Dei” in Nigeria, has gone missing.
The 58-year-old Spanish doctor, José Manuel Machimbarrena, is suspected to have been kidnapped at his home in Enugu State, South East Nigeria, where he has lived since 1978.
Sources say kidnapping took place on Wednesday April 4th, as the doctor came home from the hospital in Enugu where he worked.
Machimbarrena is director of clinical services at the Niger Foundation Hospital, an Opus Dei-funded project that has been running since 1993.
The foundation “promotes educational, medical and social initiatives in rural areas and Machimbarrena also provided medical care for the underprivileged” sources close to him have said.
Machimbarrena combines his work for the foundation with his work as a doctor at the Enugu hospital. “His work has helped contribute to lessening the suffering of those less fortunate”.
A Spanish foreign ministry spokesman said that Spain’s embassy in Nigeria is working with the local authorities to resolve the case and that the foreign ministry is in “permanent contact” with the man’s family.
The Spanish Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Garcia-Margallo, on Wednesday confirmed that one of its nationals had gone missing in southern Nigeria and was feared kidnapped.
The disappearance of the man “has all the characteristics of a kidnapping for economic reasons,” Margallo said.
“The organisation he works for has asked for total discretion,” the foreign minister added as he arrived in parliament.
“It is in the south of the country, not in the north, so there are no political implications of any type.”
It would be recalled that two weeks back, the State Security Service (SSS) paraded seven men accused of being part of the gang that mastermind the kidnap of a United Arab Emirates citizen, Mohammed Khamis Majed Ishmael AI Ali, early this year.
Deputy Director, Public Relations, SSS, told journalists that all the suspects took part in the kidnap of the UAE citizen who spent 60 days in the custody of his abductors.
The suspects paraded by the SSS were aged between 22 and 33 years.