A priest and a seminarian who had been kidnapped in the diocese of Minna, in Nigeria, were released on Wednesday, 23 August, after three weeks in captivity.

According to a statement released by the Missionaries of Africa (also known as the White Fathers), “they are both fine, alive and healthy, despite the traumatizing experience they went through in the hands of their abductors”.

Fr Paul Sanogo, and Brother Melchior Mahinini, originally from Mali and from Tanzania, respectively, were kidnapped on 2 August in the state of Niger, in Nigeria. In the statement, the religious missionary order thanks all those who were in any way involved in freeing the two men, and especially the diocesan authorities for providing “the right advice, strategies and logistics”.

“We pray for the conversion of those who continue to think that the easiest way to make money is by hurting others”, says the statement.

Kidnapping by bandits is widespread in Nigeria. Although priests and members of the clergy are far from being the only victims of this type of crime, 13 have been kidnapped in 2023 alone, although were later released. Besides these incidents, two Nigerian priests were also killed in 2023, and three priests who were kidnapped in previous years are still missing.

The three missing priests are John Bako Shekwolo, from the Diocese of Kaduna, who was abducted in 2019; Joseph Igweagu, from the Diocese of Onitsha, taken in 2022; and Christopher Ogide, from Umuahia Diocese, who was also abducted in 2022. ACN asks its benefactors and friends to pray for their safe and swift release and for their family members.