JOS, Nigeria (Morning Star News) – A pastor abducted in northeastern Nigeria was released on Friday (Oct. 30), while Muslim Fulani herdsmen in Nasarawa state have kidnapped a 6-year-old Christian boy after killing his father, sources said.
Militants from the Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) terrorist group released the Rev. Polycarp Zongo, kidnapped on Oct. 19, after negotiations that were undisclosed. Members of his Church of Christ in Nigeria (COCIN) notified Morning Star News of his release.
Zongo was kidnapped along with two Christian women as they traveled from his church base in Jos, Plateau state to attend a COCIN conference in the city of Gombe, in the state of the same name, according to his statements in a video released on Thursday (Oct. 29) by ISWAP. There was no word on the fate of the abducted women.
His wife learned of his release on Friday night, and a prayer vigil held nightly since his capture turned into a festival of praise and worship at his residence.
“Praise to the Lord, thanks for praying so earnestly,” the Rev. Gideon Para-Malam told Morning Star News Friday night. “He’s not yet in Jos, but [there is] much joy in the hearts of his congregation and others of us.”
ISWAP in 2016 broke off from the rebel terrorist group Boko Haram.
In north-central Nigeria’s Nasarawa state, 6-year-old Isaiah Okunu remains captive after Muslim Fulani herdsmen killed his father and abducted him and his mother from their home in Nasarawa Town on Oct. 24.
Isaiah’s mother was released five days later. The family belongs to the Evangelical Church Winning All (ECWA).
After initially demanding the family pay 10 million naira (US$26,212), the herdsmen have lowered their demand to 3 million naira (US$7,865) in ransom, Mohammed Sani Otto, council chairman of Nasarawa Local Government Area, told Morning Star News.
Kidnappings and murders of Christians in Nasarawa state have become common. Atso Caleb, a pastor in Nasarawa state, told Morning Star News by text message that armed herdsmen attacked the Christian community of Gada Biyu on Aug. 24.
“I was moved to tears seeing the number of Christians in desperate need of help,” Pastor Caleb said. “Many Christians here are victims of herdsmen’s incessant attacks that have since made farming a risky venture in our villages.”