The Diocese of Enugu in Nigeria has expressed its gratitude to God and the faithful following the release of Father Marcellinus Obioma Okide, who had been abducted on Sept. 17.

In a Sept. 22 statement obtained by ACI Africa, CNA’s news partner in Africa, Father Wilfred Chidi Agubuchie, the chancellor of the Enugu Diocese, said: “We are glad to inform you that our brother and priest, Father Marcellinus Obioma Okide, has been released from the den of the kidnappers.” 

Agubuchie said Okide, a parish priest at St. Mary Amofia-Agu Affa Parish in the Enugu Diocese, was set free on Thursday evening, Sept. 21.

“The Catholic Diocese of Enugu is grateful to the Almighty God for his protection over Father Okide, and thanks you for your prayers and Masses throughout this difficult period,” Agubuchie said. “May Our Lady, Help of Christians, intercede for us and our country Nigeria.”

Nigeria has been experiencing insecurity since 2009 when Boko Haram insurgency began with the aim of turning the country 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.

The insecure situation in the country has further been complicated by the involvement of the predominantly Muslim Fulani herdsmen, also referred to as the Fulani Militia.

The case of Okide is the latest in a series of kidnappings and murders in Africa’s most populous nation involving members of the clergy, seminarians, and other Christians. 

On Aug. 2, a priest and seminarian were abducted from the Diocese of Minna. Father Paul Sanogo from Mali and seminarian Melchior Mahinini from Tanzania were released on Aug. 23 after three weeks in captivity.

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In an interview with ACI Africa on Sept. 1, the two members of the Missionaries of Africa said the trauma they experienced during their three-week captivity was a blessing, as it had strengthened their faith.

This story was first published by ACI Africa, CNA’s news partner in Africa, and has been adapted by CNA.