Kidnapped priest and seminarian released from captivity in Nigeria
Father Paul Sanogo of Mali and seminarian Dominic Merikiory Mahinini, who were abducted three weeks ago from their parish residence in in Nigeria have been set free.
The two missionaries, who are members of the Society of the Missionaries of Africa, were released on the night of 23 August 2023.
Their abduction brought severe suffering to their families. Bishop Robert Cissé of the Catholic Diocese of Sikasso visited the family of Father Sanogo, right after his abduction, to encourage them during these difficult times.
The Provincial Superior of the Missionaries of Africa in Ghana-Nigeria, Father Dennis Dashong Pam announced: “It is with great joy that I inform you about the regained freedom of my two brothers today, the 23 August 2023, Father Paul Sanogo from Mali and Brother Melchior Mahinini from Tanzania, who were kidnapped on Wednesday the 2 August 2023 at night in our community in Gyedna, Minna Diocese, Niger State, Nigeria. They are both fine, alive and healthy despite the traumatising experience they went through in the hands of their abductors during their time of captivity for the last 3 weeks. We pray for the conversion of those who continue to think that the easiest way to make money is by hurting others.” He voiced his gratitude to diocesan authorities for providing “the right advice, strategies and logistics”. He also thanked believers for their spiritual aid: “We asked for your moral support and prayers. Their release is a confirmation of your fervent prayers and support. That is why I come back to you all in appreciation for being there for us during this dark, difficult and trying moment”.
Superior General, Father Stan Lubungo proclaimed that despite all the threats missionaries face in Nigeria, they intend to continue their work: “We went there for the people that are in this place. It is not easy to say at this moment, but this is a new place which we are still putting up. And our wish is, of course, to continue. We know that we have the support of the people with whom we share life. And these things are sadly part of the experiences that people are going through. And so, we will see in what state of mind our confreres are, but it is our intention to continue to be there”.
According to statistics from Aid to the Church in Need, 13 clergy have been abducted and later freed, and two others have been murdered this year in Nigeria. Three priests, who were kidnapped in 2022 still remain missing.