A priest and a seminarian kidnapped in Nigeria’s Middle Belt have been released after three weeks in captivity.
Father Paul Sanogo and Brother Melchior Mahinini, of the Missionaries of Africa (also known as the White Fathers), had been abducted from their parish residence by criminals on 2nd August in Minna diocese, Niger state and were released on 23rd August.
In a statement seen by Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), Father Dennis Dashong Pam, provincial superior of the Missionaries of Africa in Ghana-Nigeria, wrote: “They are both fine, alive and healthy, despite the traumatising experience they went through in the hands of their abductors.
“I am very happy, and just like many of our confreres, we feel relieved.
“We have been thinking very much about their families who have been unable to sleep; it has been three weeks!”
Father Pam added: “Their release is a confirmation of your fervent prayers and support.”
He expressed gratitude to diocesan authorities for providing “the right advice, strategies and logistics”.
He concluded: “We pray for the conversion of those who continue to think that the easiest way to make money is by hurting others.”
So far this year, 13 clergymen have been taken captive in Nigeria and later freed, but three priests kidnapped in previous years are still missing and two others were murdered, according to official data obtained by ACN.
Between January 2021 and June 2022, more than 7,600 Nigerian Christians were killed and 5,200 kidnapped, according to the findings of ACN’s 2022 Persecuted and Forgotten? – A Report on Christians oppressed for their Faith.
In 2022, Nigeria ranked sixth in the Global Terrorism Index and was placed 143rd out of 163 countries in the Global Peace Index.
With thanks to Filipe D’Avillez