NIGERIA – Nigerian priest kidnapped after Sunday Mass has been released

CSF | Fr. David Echioda | March 3, 2020

A Nigerian priest who was kidnapped after offering Sunday Mass March 1 has been freed, his diocese has reported.

“I have been reliably informed that Fr. David Echioda has been released by his abductors,” Nigeria’s Diocese of Otukpo said in a message to priests March 3.

“Thank you for your prayers and support during this trying time,” the diocese added.

Fr. David Echioda, who is assigned to ministry at Otukpo’s minor seminary, was abducted by gunmen as he returned to the seminary from his missionary outpost in central Nigeria, where he had been celebrating Mass.

The kidnapping is the latest in a series of abductions and killings in Nigeria which have involved Catholics and other Christians; clergy, seminarians, and lay people.

Archbishop Ignatius Kaigama of Abuja called on Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari to address the violence and kidnappings in his homily March 1 at a Mass with the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria.

“We need to have access to our leaders; president, vice president. We need to work together to eradicate poverty, killings, bad governance and all sorts of challenges facing us as a nation,” Kaigama said according to Naija News.

In February, another priest was kidnapped by gunmen in the state of Edo in the southwest region of the country.

Seminarian Michael Nnadi, 18, was killed in late January, weeks after he and three other seminarians were abducted from their seminary in Nigeria. The seminarians kidnapped with Nnadi have been released, but one is facing life-threatening injuries.

Boko Haram, an Islamist militant group that has sworn allegiance to the Islamic State, has been active in Nigeria for years. While the group has attacked both Muslims and Christians in the past, recent attacks have focused on the killing and kidnapping of Christians.