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Abducted Nigerian Priest Freed after 10-Day Captivity Traumatized, in Hospital

Fr Matthew Dajo freed by his abductors Wednesday, December 2 after spending 10 days in captivity.

The Nigerian Priest kidnapped from a Parish of Nigeria’s Abuja Archdiocese last month who was freed Wednesday, December 2 after 10 days of captivity is traumatized and has been hospitalized, ACI Africa has been told.

“Fr Matthew Dajo has truly been released,” the Director of Communication in Abuja Diocese, Fr. Patrick Alumuku told ACI Africa Thursday, December 3, a day after the Parish Priest of St. Anthony's Catholic Church, Yangoji was released.

“He is traumatized and in seclusion,” Fr. Alumuku further said in reference to Fr. Matthew and later added, “He's actually been admitted in a hospital now.”

Fr. Matthew was picked up from St. Anthony's Parish on November 22 after armed bandits raided the community and shot sporadically for about 30 minutes.

According to Fr. Kevin Oselumhense Anetor, “The gunmen scaled through the fence of the Priest’s house, while others positioned themselves outside, before entering Fr. Matthew’s bedroom and whisked him away.”

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Fr. Matthew’s “safe release” was announced by the Archbishop of Abuja. “We thank God for the safe release of our brother Fr. Matthew Dajo, today Wednesday, 2nd December 2020,”  Archbishop Ignatius Kaigama announced in the statement circulated Thursday, December 3.

“We thank you all for your kind prayers. We also thank the family of Fr. Dajo and all those who assisted in securing his release,” Archbishop Kaigama stated in his statement addressed to the Clergy, Religious and Lay Faithful of the Catholic Archdiocese of Abuja.

In the statement, the Nigerian Archbishop invites the people of God under his pastoral care to pray “that there will be improved security in the country.”

Nigeria has been experiencing insecurity since 2009 when Boko Haram insurgency began targeted attacks with the aim of turning Africa’s most populous nation 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.

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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 “safe release” of Fr. Matthew is an answer to prayers that the Local Ordinary of Abuja Archdiocese called for some days after Nigeria’s security officials said they had launched a manhunt to trail and apprehend the abductors.

On November 25, Archbishop Kaigama asked for prayers for the safe release of Fr. Matthew, saying, “My priest in Abuja was kidnapped and he is still in captivity. Kindly pray for his safe release, please.”

In recent months, the state of insecurity in Nigeria seems to have heightened, according to reports.

On September 27, at least seven soldiers were killed in a landmine ambush by Boko Haram insurgents in the Northern axis of Borno State, BBC News reported.

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The Medical Director of Peace Hospital, Ayingba, Dr Azubuike Joel Ihenacho, was on November 21 abducted by unidentified gunmen. 

On November 23, a day after the kidnapping of Fr. Matthew, two people were abducted in Nasarawa State. On the same day, another person was killed barely 24 hours after the All Progressives Congress (APC) chairman in the state, Philip Shekwo had been kidnapped and killed, Vanguard reported.

“We have cases of abductions, detentions, and killings by terrorist groups, criminal herdsmen, bandits, and gangs of kidnappers to contend with,” Archbishop Kaigama said in his address during the November 25 #RedWednesday, an initiative of Aid to the Church in Need (ACN).

The Archbishop added during his November 25 address, “Last week, in one of our parishes in Abuja archdiocese behind the parish house, five children of the same parents were kidnapped, and the following day a woman preparing for her church wedding was also kidnapped. They have not been found.”

The Nigerian Archbishop went on to encourage Western nations to put pressure on Muhammadu Buhari-led government to act decisively against insecurity as well as to share intelligence information and to generally provide more support in the fight against terrorism.

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The Western nations “must prevail on Nigerian leaders to be honest and single-minded in the war against terror. The UK and other nations with Christian roots should speak and act more in favour of freedom,” Archbishop Kaigama said November 25.