AFRICA/NIGERIA - Release of kidnapped students and favorable reception of Nigerians at the Pope's appeal

Tuesday, 2 March 2021 kidnappings   pope francis  

Abuja (Agenzia Fides) - The 279 students of the GGSS Jangebee Secondary School in the state of Zamfara, in the north-west of Nigeria, kidnapped on the night of February 25 (see Fides, 26/2/2021) have been released. "Yes, all the girls have been released" confirms to Agenzia Fides Fr. Patrick Tor Alumuku, director of social communications of the Archdiocese of Abuja and director of the "Catholic Television of Nigeria".
Initially, the total number of girls kidnapped by an armed group was reported to be 317. Authorities later claimed that the female students kidnapped from their dormitory by a group of around 100 gunmen was 279.
After the Angelus of last Sunday, February 28, Pope Francis made an urgent appeal for their release, asking for the intercession of the Virgin Mary. "I join my voice with that of the Bishops of Nigeria to condemn the vile abduction of 317 girls, taken away from their school, to Jangebe, in the northwest of the country. I pray for these girls, that they may return home soon. I am close to their families and to the girls themselves. Let us pray to Our Lady that she safeguard them", said the Holy Father.
"Pope Francis’s appeal was very well received here in Nigeria - says Fr. Alumuku - not only because the Holy Father has asked for the release of the girls, but above all because we realize that we need voices from abroad to make people understand what is happening in Nigeria", an ever more serious situation from the point of view of security and national cohesion as denounced by the Bishops in their recent
message in which they warn that "Nigeria risks exploding" due to the government's inability to guarantee security and the growing number of armed self-defense groups (see Fides, 24/2/2021). (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides, 2/3/2021)