Christians in Nigeria are celebrating the release of a priest and seminarian following their kidnapping.
Father Paul Sanogo and Brother Melchior Mahinini, of the Missionaries of Africa (also known as the White Fathers) were held in captivity for three weeks prior to their release.
So far this year, 13 clergy have been abducted and later freed, but three priests – kidnapped in 2022 – remain missing.
Two others have been murdered, according to statistics from Aid to the Church in Need.
They report, between January 2021 and June 2022, more than 7,600 Nigerian Christians were killed and 5,200 kidnapped.
Following the latest release, Father Dennis Dashong Pam, provincial superior of the Missionaries of Africa in Ghana-Nigeria, released a statement. He 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.”