A Nigerian priest who was abducted by armed militants last week has been released, according to comments released by his diocese.
Fr. Nicholas Oboh was seized in the southwest region of Nigeria on 13th February by suspected Islamic fighters. He was released on Tuesday evening.
"I am pleased to inform this house that our priest who was kidnapped last week Thursday, Rev. Fr. Nicolas Oboh, has regained his freedom,” a spokesman for the Diocese of Uromi told Nigerian Catholic leaders in a WhatsApp message on 18th February, according to the Catholic Herald.
“He was released this evening. Many thanks for your prayers and goodwill.”
According to reports, a number of children were kidnapped alongside Fr. Oboh -- their current condition and location remains unknown.
Prior to Fr. Oboh's release, the diocese announced that it was confident the clergyman was safe. "We are sure that he is alive and since the incident steps have been taken to ensure that Rev. Fr. Nicholas Oboh is released without any harm,” the chancellor of the Uromi diocese, Fr. Osi Odenore, explained at the weekend.
Nigeria has been thrust into the international media spotlight in recent months with a spate of attacks and kidnappings, many of which have struck at the heart of the Christian community.
Just this week, a group of suspected Islamist militants in Borno state committed an arson attack that killed 30 people, including a pregnant mother and her young baby. Last month, an 18-year-old Christian student was killed weeks after he and three other trainees were kidnapped from their seminary in Nigeria. The others were released, but one is still reported to be dealing with life-threatening injuries.
In the same month, Rev. Lawan Andima, a local Government Chairman of the Christian Association of Nigeria, was beheaded by Islamic terror group Boko Haram.
Many believe that the attacks are getting worse as a result of the Government's failure to quell the threat of extremism and heal the nation's heightening religious tensions.
“The current situation in Nigeria reflects an unnecessary, unwarranted and self-inflicted tension. A politically polarised nation," Archbishop Akubeze, the president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria, said in a recent interview with Aid to the Church in Need.
"The President of Nigeria recently stated that he was shocked at the unabated killing of Nigerians, who are mostly Christians. Many Nigerians wonder whether the president lives in a parallel universe
“How can he be surprised at this time? After some of us have attended mass burials of Christians killed by Boko Haram? The government is certainly not doing enough to protect both Christians and Muslims."