Nigeria: Two pastors kidnapped and held for ransom
Two pastors have been abducted this month in Kogi state, Nigeria, the Morning Star News reports.
Pastor David Onubedo of Deeper Life Bible Church was abducted by gun-point on January 25 in Okene on his way home from a Bible study.
This incident follows the kidnapping of pastor Ayo Raphael during a worship service of the Redeemed Christian Church of God church in Lokoja on January 10.
The kidnappers have demanded 50 million naira (£175,000) for each of the abducted pastors.
Onubedo, who is a minister at a church in Kebbi city, had been visiting his home town of Okene when he was kidnapped, a church member told Morning Star News.
His church has called for people to pray for his safe return in a text message: "Please, begin to pray and send prayer requests to others for the release of Pastor Onubedo, a state overseer in Deeper Life Ministry who was reportedly kidnapped at his residence immediately after the Bible Study tonight [Monday]," the text message said. "The pastor wants us to immediately enter prayer closets both as individuals, families and in groups for his immediate safe release."
Raphael was kidnapped during a worship service in the state's capital. Masked gunmen disrupted the service and abducted him by gunpoint, according to a member of the congregation.
"The gunmen attacked the church while Pastor Ayo was preaching," a member of the church said. "They ordered us to lie down and close our eyes as they shot into the air and dragged our pastor away at gunpoint."
Phyllis Sorto, an American missionary from the Free Methodist Church USA, was kidnapped on 23 February 2015 in the same state as both Onubedo and Raphael, in a village called Emi-Oworo. She was released on March 6 in the same year.
Nigeria is number 12 on the OpenDoors watchlist for Christian persecution. Boko Haram, working predominantly in the north of the country, has declared its own caliphate, while Islamic Hausa-Fulani herdsmen are frequently attacking Christian villages in the middle-belt of the country, often taking over farmland and depriving Christian villagers of their livelihood.