Abuja (Agenzia Fides) - "We have been reliably informed that Fr. David Echioda has been released by his abductors. Thank you for your prayers and support during this trying time", says the message from the Nigerian diocese of Otukpo, in the state of Benue, which announces the release of Fr. David Echioda, a priest who had been kidnapped on Sunday March 1st.
Fr. Echioda was abducted by armed men as he returned to the seminary from his missionary outpost in central Nigeria, where he had been celebrating Mass in Utonkon, Ado in the state of Benue, in central Nigeria, according to reports from the Nigerian press.
The kidnapping of Echioda, the latest in a series of abductions and killings in Nigeria which have involved Catholics and other Christians; clergy, seminarians, and lay people, took place on the same day that the country's Catholic Bishops were leading a march in the capital, Abuja, to peacefully protest the persecution of Christians in the most populous Africa nation (see Fides, 4/3/2020).
"We protest against the brutal killings of innocent Nigerians by Boko Haram and groups of armed herdsmen who violently invade the lands of agricultural populations. We embarked on a peaceful protest on behalf of over 50 million Catholics and over 100 million Christians in Nigeria", said Archbishop Augustine Akubueze, Archbishop of Benin City and President of the Bishops' Conference of Nigeria (CBCN). "The killing of the children of God is evil, the inability to protect innocent people from incessant attacks is evil, not pursuing terrorists is an evil thing, our government's response to the terrorist attack is, using an understatement, very below average", said Archbishop Akubueze who recalled "the massacres, the kidnappings of school-age children, travelers, the destruction of private homes, sacred places such as churches, mosques and seminars". (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides, 5/3/2020)