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(LifeSiteNews) — Two priests who had been abducted in southern Nigeria at the end of April were just released last week. 

According to African news outlet Agenzia Fides, Fr. Chochos Kunav and his colleague Fr. Raphael Ogigba, were freed by their captors on Thursday, May 4, after being held several nights in captivity. Kunav is a member of the Secular Institute of the Schoenstatt Fathers, and Ogigba is a priest of the diocese of Warri, stationed at St. Francis Church in Agbara Otor, in Delta State.  

READ: Two more priests abducted in Nigeria as persecution of Christians continues 

The Diocese of Warri confirmed to Fides on Friday, May 5, that the priests “were released yesterday, they are in good health, but were hospitalized for examination,” adding, “we thank all those who prayed for the prompt release of the two priests.” 

Local news reported that the abductors demanded a ransom in exchange for the priests’ release, but the Nigerian Bishops’ Conference has declared for several years that no ransoms will be paid for the release of priests or religious. Reports did not state whether a ransom had been paid on this occasion for the two priests. 

Kunav and Ogigba had been taken captive by gunmen on Saturday night “while traveling to Ughelli on the Agbara-Otor road,” in Delta State. At the time, police pursued the kidnappers.  

At the end of March, Agenzia Fides noted that the abduction of clergy and religious in Nigeria has increasingly become part of the Islamic persecution of Christians in the country. Similarly, Open Doors’ World Watch List 2023 (WWL) – which details annually the persecution of Christians through the world – says of the Islamic persecution of Christians in Nigeria, “The violence is most pervasive in the north, where militant groups such as Boko Haram, ISWAP and Fulani militants inflict murder, physical injury, abduction and sexual violence on their victims. Christians are dispossessed of their land and their means of livelihood. Many live as internally displaced people or refugees… Violence and land grabbing are not limited to the north alone. Fulani militants have carried these practices into the southern regions, where communities, villages and other locations have been invaded.” 

READ: Over 50,000 Nigerian Christians have been killed for their faith since 2009: report 

Because of the plight of Christians in Nigeria, Bishop Jude Arogundade, who reopened a church on Easter Sunday 10 months after at least 50 people were killed during Mass by terrorists who opened fire on the congregation, and Bishop Wilfred Chikpa Anagbe have appealed to the European Parliament and the U.S. for assistance. Arogundade has also accused U.S. Democrats of deliberately turning a blind eye to Christian persecution in his homeland.