Catholic priest in Nigeria who escaped nine-day captivity ‘responding well to medication’

By Evans Kipkura for CNA

Fr. Elijah Juma Wada was abducted on June 30, 2021, in Nigeria’s Maiduguri diocese. / Courtesy photo.

Maiduguri, Nigeria, Jul 13, 2021 / 17:01 pm (CNA).

Fr. Elijah Juma Wada, a priest of the Diocese of Maiduguri who was abducted June 30 and held for nine days, is “generally responding well to medication,” according to the diocese’s secretary.

Suspected Boko Haram Boko Haram insurgents abducted Fr. Elijah Juma Wada along Damboa Maiduguri road in Borno state, a day after he had left his parish, St. Paul’s in Buma, where he is the Father in Charge.

Fr. John Bakeni, Secretary of the Maiduguri diocese, told ACI Africa July 13 that “Fr. Juma regained his freedom on Thursday (July 8) last week after he escaped from his captors.”

“We thank God for his faithfulness. Our God is alive and on the throne. He will never disappoint us especially in critical times,” Fr. Bakeni said.

Fr. Juma was not in perfect health when he was freed, and he “has been evacuated to a safe area for medical attention but as we speak, he is generally responding well to medication.”

Having escaped from his abductors, Fr. Bakeni said, no ransom seems to have been paid to secure the release of Fr. Juma.

Fr. Juma had spent the night of June 29 in Biu Local Government Area, and he was abducted along Biu-Damaturu.

Fr. Juma’s abduction was one the latest in a series of kidnappings that seem to target Christians, including priests, in the West African nation.

Nigeria has been experiencing insecurity since 2009 when a Boko Haram insurgency began with the aim of turning the country, Africa’s most populous nation, into an Islamic state.

Since then, the militia, one of largest Islamic sects in Africa, has been orchestrating indiscriminate terrorist attacks on various targets.

The insecurity situation in the country has further been complicated by the involvement of the predominantly Muslim Fulani herdsmen, who have been clashing frequently with Christian farmers over grazing land.

Bishops in Nigeria have repeatedly called on the government to put in place strict measures to protect her citizens.

“Insecurity, clearly evident in widespread loss of lives and property, has left the impression that the country’s leaders are either unable – or worse still, unwilling – to take up the responsibilities of their office,” the Nigerian bishops’ conference said in a Feb. 23 statement.

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