AFRICA/NIGERIA - Father Leo Raphael Ozigi's release confirmed; two priests still in the hands of the kidnappers

Monday, 11 April 2022 kidnappings   priests  

Abuja (Agenzia Fides) - The release of Father Leo Raphael Ozigi, parish priest of St. Mary's Church, Sarkin Pawa Village, Munya Local Government Area, Niger State, kidnapped on Sunday, March 27, has been confirmed (see Fides, 29/3/2022).
This information was reported to Agenzia Fides by Father Patrick Tor Alumuku, Director of Social Communications of the Archdiocese of Abuja and Director of the "Catholic Television of Nigeria", who says he has contacted the diocese of Minna, which confirms the release of the priest, specifying that no ransom was paid by the Church.
"For years the Bishops have decided that the Church cannot pay ransoms for the release of kidnapped priests or men and women religious", says Fr. Patrick. "This does not exclude family members and friends of the kidnapped persons from taking steps to find the sum demanded by the kidnappers", he adds.
According to sources in the Diocese of Minna, "a member of the priest's family was directly involved in the negotiations and the subsequent release". The kidnappers did not know that Father Leo Raphael was a Catholic priest".
Father Ozigi was released on the night of April 8 on the Kaduna-Zaria road. According to media sources, the priest was being held captive in a hideout in a forest in Kaduna state, where he was transferred after his abduction. Besides Father Ozigi, two other priests were abducted in Nigeria in March, both from the northern state of Kaduna: Father Joseph Akete Bako, parish priest of St John's Church, Kudenda, in the local government area of Kaduna Sud, kidnapped on the night of March 8 during an assault on the parish house in which one person was killed (see Fides, 9/3/2022) and Fr. Felix Zakari Fidson, from the Diocese of Zaria, kidnapped on March 24 (see Fides, 25/3/2022). (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides, 11/4/2022)