Kidnapped Nigerian bishop recuperating after being freed

Bishop Moses Chikwe, an Auxiliary Bishop in the Archdiocese of Owerri

A Catholic bishop has been released after being kidnapped and held for five days.

Bishop Moses Chikwe, of the Archdiocese of Owerri, in southern Nigeria, was kidnapped by unidentified gunmen on the evening of 27 December 2020. 

He was taken from his car in Owerri along with his driver Ndubuisi Robert.

They were freed on New Year's Day unharmed and without any ransom being paid following a police operation. 

The driver was taken to hospital to treat a cut on his hand, while the bishop is "very weak" but recuperating at home.

The Archdiocese of Owerri expressed its "gratitude" for the men's release although it added that the experience had been "traumatic". 

"Nevertheless, we continue to thank Almighty God for His goodness to us," it said.

Much of the violence affecting Nigeria has been confined to the central and northern regions until now, but Open Doors analyst Illia Djadi warned last month that the problem is increasingly moving south. 

"People are no longer safe in Nigeria," he said.

"If you travel you are risking your life.

"People all over Nigeria travel fearing they will be kidnapped or attacked. They go to bed fearing they will be kidnapped or attacked. They go to church fearing they will be kidnapped or attacked."