The situation has further been complicated by the involvement of the predominantly Muslim Fulani herdsmen, also known as the Fulani Militia, who have clashed frequently with Christian farmers over grazing land.
Fr. Luka’s release follows a series of other kidnappings of Nigerian clergy.
In April, gunmen seized 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.
In May, two priests were kidnapped at St. Vincent Ferrer Malunfashi Catholic parish in Sokoto diocese. One of them, Fr. Alphonsus Bello, a 33-year-old Fidei Donum priest incardinated in Nigeria’s Kaduna archdiocese, was killed. The other, 75-year-old Fr. Joe Keke, was later released.
In July, Fr. Elijah Juma Wada, a priest serving in Maiduguri diocese, was abducted and later escaped after spending nine days in captivity.
Last month, Nigeria’s Catholic bishops decried the rise in abductions, killings, and property destruction, calling on the federal government to “take full responsibility for the present culture of violence.”
“Deaths in the hands of kidnappers, killer herdsmen, bandits, terrorist groups have made Nigeria one of the most terrorized countries in the world,” they said in an Aug. 26 statement.
They underlined the need for the government, led by President Muhammadu Buhari, “to show more strategic commitment and sincerity in this fight and take full responsibility for the present culture of violence and impunity in the country.”
“The government must be balanced and seen to be so in its response to the challenges of insecurity in every segment of the citizenry,” they said after their plenary assembly in Enugu diocese, southeastern Nigeria.
A version of this story was first published by ACI Africa, CNA's African news partner, written by Jude Atemanke. It has been adapted by CNA.