Abuja (Agenzia Fides) - Fr. Felix Zakari Fidson, priest of the diocese of Zaria, in the state of Kaduna, northern Nigeria, kidnapped on March 24, has been released (see Fides, 25/3/2022).
"With a heart filled with joy, we announce the return of our brother, Fr. Felix Zakari Fidson, abducted on March 24," announced the Chancellor of the Diocese of Zaria, Fr. Patrick Adikwu Odeh, according to whom the priest had been "released around 1 p.m. on May 3".
"We want to thank all those who offered prayers for the speedy release of our dear brother. We pray to God to hasten the release of those who are still in the hands of their captors", added Fr. Odeh. "May Our Lady, the Mother of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and our Mother continue to intercede for our dear country, Nigeria. Amen", he concluded.
In addition to Fr. Fidson, two other priests were kidnapped in Nigeria in March, Fr Joseph Akete Bako, pastor of St John's Church in Kudenda, Kaduna South Local Government Area, abducted on the night of March 8 during an attack on the parish house in which a person was killed (see Fides, 9/3/2022) and Father Leo Raphael Ozigi, parish priest of St. Mary's Church, in the village of Sarkin Pawa, in local government area of Munya, in the state of Niger, kidnapped on Sunday, March 27 (see Fides, 29/3/2022).
The latter was released on the night of April 8 along the Kaduna-Zaria road (see Fides, 11/4/2022).
To combat the scourge of kidnappings for extortion in Nigeria, the Nigerian Senate has approved a bill that punishes anyone who pays a ransom to free a person with a prison term of at least 15 years. The Senate bill, which must be discussed in the House of Representatives before being approved and signed by the Head of State, has sparked strong controversy in the country. Dr. Monday Ubani, head of the bar association's public affairs section, criticized the proposal to criminalize the payment of ransoms by institutions that are unable to guarantee the safety of citizens. "The truth is that kidnap victims pay ransom out of desperation and helplessness, knowing that the state has failed and is unable to protect lives and property or secure the release of their loved ones", he said.
The Nigerian bishops have for years prohibited the payment of ransoms in cases of kidnapping of ecclesiastical and religious personnel. (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides, 7/5/2022)