The Archdiocese of Kaduna is appealing for prayers for the “urgent and safe release” of Father Gabriel Ukeh, who was abducted from a parish rectory on June 9.

On Monday, June 10, the chancellor of the archdiocese, Father Emmanuel Faweh Kazakh, shared with ACI Africa, CNA’s news partner in Africa, information that indicates Ukeh was taken from the rectory of St. Thomas Zaman Dabo Parish in the Kaduna Archdiocese in the early hours of Sunday.

Kazakh appealed to the Nigerian government to act on the rampant abductions of priests in the country.

“While we solicit for fervent prayers for his urgent and safe release, we equally condemn this act of incessant kidnappings for ransom of innocent and defenseless citizens of our communities, and we call upon the government to horn its security intelligence as we approach the celebration of Sallah [marking the end of Ramadan],” the chancellor said.

“As we work with security operatives for his quick release, we wish to call on all to stay away from taking the laws into their hands,” he continued. “We will use every legitimate means to ensure that Father comes back to us safe and sound.” 

Kazakh offered this prayer: “Through the intercessions of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother of Priests and Religious, may Jesus the crucified hearken to our prayers and hasten the unconditional release of his priest and every other abducted person.”

Nigeria has been battling a surge of violence orchestrated by gangs whose members carry out indiscriminate attacks, kidnapping for ransom and, in some cases, murdering people.

An insurgency by Boko Haram, a group that allegedly aims to turn Africa’s most populous nation into an Islamic nation, has been a major challenge in the country since 2009.

The latest abduction of Ukeh follows a series of other kidnappings that have targeted members of the clergy in Nigeria. Father Oliver Buba, a priest of the Diocese of Yola, was abducted on May 21 and later released.

More in Middle East - Africa

On May 15, the Archdiocese of Onitsha announced the abduction of Father Basil Gbuzuo. He was later set free.

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