Zaria, Nigeria, May 5, 2022 / 12:30 pm (CNA).
A Catholic diocese in Nigeria has announced “with joy” the release of a priest held captive for 40 days.
Diocesan chancellor Father Patrick Adikwu Odeh said: “With hearts filled with joy, we announce the return of our brother, the Rev. Fr. Felix Zakari Fidson, who was abducted shortly after he left his residence at St. Ann’s Zango Tama II on his way to the diocesan headquarters on Thursday, March 24, 2022.”
The abduction of Zakari, pastor of St. Ann’s, Zango/Taman Parish, was immediately followed by an appeal for prayers for his release.
In a March 25 statement, Odeh asked the people of God to also pray for other abductees.
“We call on all men and women of goodwill to pray for the safe release of Father Felix Zakari Fidson and others from the hands of their abductors, on this day of the Solemnity of the Annunciation,” he said.
“Through the intercession of Our Lady, the Mother of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and our mother, may our brother Rev. Fr. Felix Zakari Fidson and others return to us safe and sound.”
In a statement on May 4, Odeh expressed gratitude to Catholics who had prayed unceasingly for Zakari’s release.
“We want to thank all who offered prayers for the quick release of our dear brother. We pray God to hasten the release of those who are still in the hands of their abductors,” he said.
He also appealed for prayers for Nigeria, a West African country with a population of around 206 million people, roughly half of whom are Christians.
He said: “May Our Lady, the Mother of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and our mother, continue to intercede for our dear country Nigeria. Amen.”
Nigeria is ranked seventh on the World Watch List for the persecution of Christians compiled by the advocacy group Open Doors.
The country has been experiencing insecurity since 2009, when a Boko Haram insurgency began with the aim of establishing an Islamic state.
Since then, the Islamist group has orchestrated terrorist attacks on targets including religious and political groups, as well as civilians.
Insecurity has been further aggravated by the involvement of the predominantly Muslim Fulani herdsmen, also referred to as the Fulani Militia.
A 2022 report by the International Society for Civil Liberties and Rule of Law (InterSociety) found that in 2021 alone, 25 Catholic priests and pastors in Nigeria were either killed or abducted.
A version of this story was first published by ACI Africa, CNA’s African news partner. It has been adapted by CNA.
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