A Nigerian archbishop has sought the safe release of a priest who was kidnapped in Abuja earlier this week.
Father Matthew Dajo was abducted on Nov 22. Police are holding talks with his kidnappers to negotiate his release, archdiocesan spokesman Father Patrick Alumuku told Catholic News Agency on Nov. 27.
Archbishop Ignatius Kaigama of Abuja sought prayers for the abducted priest at an online event on persecuted Christians on Nov. 25.
Father Dajo is "still in captivity. Kindly pray for his safe release, please," the archbishop said.
Gun-wielding men kidnapped Father Dajo during an attack in Yangoji, where his parish, St. Anthony's Catholic Church, is situated.
The Federal Capital Territory Police Command said they are working to free Father Dajo in Yangoji village in Kwali.
According to an eyewitness, the priest was kidnapped at around 10 pm by gunmen who invaded his residence with sophisticated weapons.
The gunmen shot into the air to scare away the neighbors before taking away the priest.
Kidnappings of Catholics, including priests, seminarians, and lay faithful, in Nigeria are an ongoing problem, Archbishop Kaigama said.
Nigeria is facing cases of abductions, detentions, and killings by terrorist groups, criminal herdsmen, bandits, and gangs of kidnappers, he said.
Archbishop Kaigama said November in Abuja archdiocese, five children of the same parents were kidnapped. A Catholic woman preparing for her wedding was also kidnapped. "They have not been found," he said.
The Islamic terrorist group Boko Haram is behind many of the abductions in Nigeria, including 110 students abducted from their boarding school in Feb. 2018. One of them, one girl, Leah Sharibu, is still being held.
"Leah has become a symbol of Christian resilience against forced conversion," the archbishop said.
We must not forget the remaining 112 Chibok girls and others who are held captive with many either dead or forcefully married off, the archbishop said, referring to the kidnapping of 276 girls in Chibok, Borno state, in 2014.
"Others like her are used as human shields, sex slaves, or bargaining chips for ransom from government and international organizations," he said.
"The forceful abduction and conversion of underage Christian girls are real. On the other hand, Muslim girls who freely choose to marry Christian men face threats of death."
Western nations should pay attention to this reality "as they vigorously do in their countries in the case of the Covid-19 pandemic," he said.
"The Christian-dominated Middle Belt and some parts of northern Nigeria will have no future if groups like Boko Haram and allied terror groups continue to harass them."
"We are united in prayer and action for Christians unjustly detained for their faith. We strongly urge that they all be set free," he said.
The event, organized by Aid to the Church in Need, was chaired by Neville Kyrke-Smith, national director of ACN (UK). The event focused on Christians unjustly detained for their faith.