Two Catholic priests from Nigeria’s Awka Diocese, Fr. Felix Efobi and Fr. Joseph Nweke, who were kidnapped December 6 while on their way to a wedding have been released unharmed.
“I can confirm that the two priests have been rescued from the den of the hoodlums. Immediately the incident happened, we deployed our men to perfectly comb the forest, it was when we closed in on them that they released the victims and ran away,” police public relations officer of Ondo state command, Femi Joseph has been quoted as saying.
The two Nigerian priests were part of a convoy of cars heading to the capital of Ondo state, Akure when the motorcade was blocked. Being the main target of the abductors, the clerics were dragged out their cars while the other wedding guests were allowed to proceed to their destination.
Soon after, it was reported, the kidnappers made calls demanding a ransom of 100 million Naira (US$275,245.00) for the release of the two priests.
On the evening of Wednesday, December 10, the two were released along the same road they had been abducted and another priest went to picked them up.
The police have confirmed that no ransom was paid for their release.
“Even after they have been released, we are still after the kidnappers and very soon we will get them,” the public relations officer of Ondo state has said.
The kidnapping of the two brings to 11 the number of priests who have been kidnapped in 2019.
Church leaders in Nigeria have repeatedly expressed concerns about the targeting of priests by abductors and called on the government at all levels to put in place structures that guarantee the security of all citizens in Africa’s most populous nation.