NIGERIA: Kidnapped priest goes free

A man with a Nigerian flag in Port Harcourt, Nigeria. (© Emmanuel Ikwuegbu)
A man with a Nigerian flag in Port Harcourt, Nigeria. (© Emmanuel Ikwuegbu)

Nigerian priest Father Mikah Suleiman was released last night (Sunday, 7th July) after more than two weeks in captivity.

The parish priest of St Raymond’s Catholic Church, in Damba, Zamfara State, had been abducted from his presbytery in Sokoto diocese, north-west Nigeria, in the early hours of Saturday, 22nd June.

In the days that followed, fears for his safety grew, especially after a video was released, in which the captive priest warned of threats to kill him.

Announcing his release, Bishop Matthew Kukah of Sokoto thanked Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) for praying for Father Suleiman’s safety: “Thank you so much [to] the entire ACN family. Your love and support mean so much.”

Bishop Matthew Kukah of Sokoto (left), Father Mikah Suleiman (centre) and Father Chike (right).

Speaking in a video message shared on Facebook yesterday, Father Suleiman stated he was in good health adding: “I want to thank you for your prayers and your support towards my rescue.

“By the grace of God, I am out of the hands of the bandits. Thank you very much.”

Sokoto diocese communications director Father Pascal Salifu said: “We extend our heartfelt gratitude to God for his protection and to everyone who offered prayers and support during this challenging time.”

He added: “Our thanks also go to the authorities and all involved in securing Father Mikah’s release.”

About 10 days ago, a video message was released in which Father Suleiman stated: “[The bandits] told me that killing a person is not difficult for them.”

He added: “Please save my life in the name of God. Look at my head, look at my legs. I was tied to a [rope] and I am the only one in this place.

“Normally, if they kidnap somebody they don’t waste time.”