Gunmen kidnapped a Catholic priest in Nigeria’s Delta State on Saturday, the second kidnapping that same priest has experienced since 2018. The kidnappers released him Tuesday, though it is not yet clear whether the kidnappers were paid a ransom.
Father Jude Onyebadi, a priest at Saints Peter & Paul Catholic Church in Issele-Azagba, about 10 miles southeast of Issele-Uku, was kidnapped from his farm Sept. 26, Premium Times reported.
Onyebadi, 54, had apparently gone to inspect his farm and pay the staff their salary, and the gunmen trailed him. The gunmen also abducted three workers from the farm along with the priest, but released them later that evening.
Fr. Charles Uganwa, communications director for the Issele-Uku diocese, told CNA that the gunmen released Father Onyebadi around 4:30pm local time Sept. 29.
Uganwa said the priest was not badly injured, though he had suffered a beating as the gunmen abducted him. Uganwa said he has not been able to confirm whether any ransom was paid for his release.
Nigeria is Africa’s most populous nation and the demographics overall are almost evenly split between Christians and Muslims, though the ratio varies widely throughout the country with Muslims dominating in some areas, and vice-versa.
Delta State, where Issele-Uku is located, is overwhelmingly Christian, but small bands of Muslim militants who hide in the dense bush are an ongoing threat. Many of them appear to be Fulanis, a Mulsim ethnic group that are primarily nomadic herders.
Kidnapping is an ongoing issue throughout Nigeria, particularly in the country’s north. Before the abduction of Father Onyebadi, at least six priests of the Issele-Uku diocese had been kidnapped since 2018.