VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Four Catholic nuns were kidnapped in southeast Nigeria Aug. 21 while traveling to a Mass in a nearby state.
Fides, information service of the Pontifical Mission Societies, identified the four as Sisters Johannes Nwodo, Christabel Echemazu, Liberata Mbamalu and Benita Agu, members of the Sisters of Jesus the Savior.
The Nigerian orders has more than 160 members, with formation houses in River and Abia states.
Sister Zita Ihedoro, secretary-general of the order, said the four nuns were abducted while traveling from Rivers state to Imo state for a thanksgiving Mass. She asked for prayers “for their quick and safe release.”
Kidnappings for ransom have been common in northwestern Nigeria, but are starting to spread to other areas of the country.
U.S.-based National Public Radio reported that in June 2021 alone, about 45 people per day were kidnapped for ransom in Nigeria.
In May, Archbishop Matthew Ndagoso of Kaduna, vice president of the bishops’ conference, told an online forum: “Banditry has taken a new dimension in the last three to four years as bandits now use sophisticated weapons to massively destroy villages and their properties, kidnapping for ransom during the day time and at night.”
He blamed the country’s porous borders for the importation of increasingly sophisticated weapons that fuel growing insecurity. He also called on the government to control how arms and ammunition were being imported and to prosecute those found to illegally possess arms and ammunition.