In the December 16 statement, the leadership of the Religious Order based in Nigeria’s Umuahia Diocese expresses gratitude to “God who touched the hearts of the kidnappers to release our brother.”
SMMM leadership attributes Fr. Ezeagu’s unconditional release to the “ever reliable intercession of Mary our Mother of Mercy” and thank members of the Clergy, Religious men and women, and Christ’s faithful who offered prayers for Fr. Ezeagu.
In the notification message, SMMM Secretary General implores God “for the conversion of the kidnappers and all those that are in various forms of crime.”
In the message posted on Facebook page of Nigeria’s Diocese of Ekwulobia, SMMM leadership also calls on the government of the West African nation to “invest more in securing the lives and property of citizens as well as provide job opportunities and the enabling environment so that our teaming youths will be meaningfully engaged.”
Last week, the U.S. has listed Nigeria among the worst countries for religious freedom, described by the State Department as “country of particular concern (CPC),” which is a formal designation reserved for nations where the worst violations of religious freedom are taking place, including China, North Korea, and Saudi Arabia.
The action by the U.S. State Department has been lauded by the leadership of Knights of Columbus, with the Supreme Knight of the Knights of Columbus, Carl Anderson saying Wednesday, December 16, "Nigeria's Christians have suffered grievously at the hands of Boko Haram and other groups."
The murders and kidnappings of Christians in Nigeria now “verge on genocide,” Anderson added December 16.
“The Christians of Nigeria, both Catholic and Protestant, deserve attention, recognition and relief now,” Anderson further said and continued, “Nigeria's Christians should be able to live in peace and practice their faith without fear."
Fr. Ezeagu’s December 15 kidnapping was the latest in a series of abductions that seem to target members of the Clergy in Nigeria. Three weeks ago, Fr. Matthew Dajo, a Priest of the Archdiocese of Abuja, was kidnapped and released after ten days in captivity.