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Nigerian Catholic Priest Abducted Sunday Regains Freedom a Day Later

Fr. Joseph Danjuma Shekari, freed Monday, 7 February 2022 after 24hours in captivity in Nigeria’s Kafanchan Diocese. Credit: Kafanchan Diocese

A Nigerian Catholic Priest who was kidnapped from his Parish residence in Nigeria’s Diocese of Kafanchan on Sunday, January 6, has regained his freedom a day later.

In a statement shared with ACI Africa Tuesday, January 8, the Chancellor of the Nigerian Diocese announces the safe release of the Nigerian Catholic Priest.

“With hearts filled with joy, we raise our voices in a symphony of praises as we announce the return of our brother, Rev. Fr. Joseph Danjuma Shekari, who was abducted by armed persons from the Rectory at St. Monica's Catholic Church, Ikulu Pari in Kauru Local Government Area, Kaduna State, on Sunday 6th February, 2022,” Fr. Emmanuel Uchechukwu says.

“Fr. Shekari was released around 10.30pm on Monday, 7th February, 2022,” Fr. Uchechukwu adds.

Fr. Shekari was abducted on Sunday night when gunmen reportedly invaded his residence, taking him away after killing the Parish cook, a report by Sahara Reporters indicated.

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In the February 8 statement, the Chancellor of Kafanchan Diocese that is within the Ecclesiastical Province of Kaduna in Central Northern Nigeria expresses appreciation to the people of God who offered prayers for the safe release of Fr. Shekari and prayed for the soul of the Parish cook.

“As we pray for the repose of the soul of his cook who was killed during the attack, we want to thank all those who have offered prayers and entreaties for the quick release of our Priest and others who are still in the dens of their kidnappers,” Fr. Uchechukwu says.

He adds, “We pray to God to hasten the release of those who are still in the hands of their captors.”

In his statement shared with ACI Africa, the Nigerian Priest goes on to direct “all our Priests to kindly celebrate Mass of Thanksgiving to God for the quick release of Fr. Shekari as well as Mass for the dead, for the departed cook of Fr. Shekari.”

“May Our Lady of Guadalupe intercede for us and all those that are still in captivity,” the Chancellor of Kafanchan Diocese implores in his statement shared with ACI Africa February 8.

More in Africa

Nigeria has been experiencing insecurity since 2009 when Boko Haram insurgency began with the aim of turning the country into an Islamic state.

Since then, the group, one of largest Islamist groups in Africa, has been orchestrating indiscriminate terrorist attacks on various targets, including religious and political groups as well as civilians.

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

The latest abduction and release of Fr. Shekari follows a series of other kidnappings of members of the Clergy in Africa’s most populous nation.

In April 2021, gunmen kidnapped Fr. Izu Marcel Onyeocha, a member of the Congregation of Missionaries, Sons of the Immaculate Heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Claretians). He was later freed.

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In May last year, St. Vincent Ferrer Malunfashi Catholic Parish of Nigeria’s Sokoto Diocese was attacked and two Priests kidnapped. One of them, Fr. Alphonsus Bello, the 33-year-old Fidei Donum Priest incardinated in Nigeria’s Kaduna Archdiocese was killed; the other Priest, Fr. Joe Keke, 75, was later released.

In July last year, a Priest serving in Nigeria’s Maiduguri Diocese, Fr. Elijah Juma Wada, was abducted and later escaped after spending nine days with his abductors.

Another Priest of Nigeria’s Kafanchan Diocese was kidnapped in September 2021 and later released by his abductors.