06/17/2021 Nigeria (International Christian Concern) – Earlier this week, Our Nigeria reported that Reverend Polycarp Zongo of the Church of Christ in Nations (COCIN) was released after spending eight months in captivity. On October 19, 2020, the pastor was taken by the Boko Haram faction known as the Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP).
In a video released days after his abduction, the pastor explained his predicament while asking for government intervention:
“On Monday, 19 October 2020, I was traveling to Gombe for a church conference when we encountered the caliphate’s armed men who captured me along the way; and right now I’m with them.” Pastor Zongo stated in Hausa, asking for help from Governor Simon Lalong, state Sen. I.D. Gyang, the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) and COCIN. He then stated that two women were with him as well. “They too, captured two Christian women who are also here with me. I’m appealing that you all do all that is possible to secure our release from captivity.”
Mr. Bulama Mohammed, the executive director for the Kalthum Foundation for Peace, told Our Nigeria that “no ransom was paid to get the clergyman released. You can confirm this from his family and his church.”
Jihadist attacks in West Africa have been on the rise since the beginning of this year, with Nigeria being consistently targeted more than any other country in the region. Terrorist groups such as Boko Haram, Fulani Militants, and ISWAP have killed tens of thousands of Christians and displaced millions in an attempt to discard western influence and impose strict Islamic Sharia law. Illia Djadi, Open Doors senior analyst on freedom of religion and belief in sub-Saharan Africa, stated: “In the northeast of Nigeria, Boko Haram spreads terror with its systematic raids on predominantly Christian communities with abductions, sexual violence, and roadblock killings… Christians have been specifically targeted and disproportionately been affected by this violence… The responses by the government are clearly not enough, since perpetrators of such violence are able to continue attacking Christians, and other Nigerians, with impunity.”
Please pray for the safe return of all who have been kidnapped and give thanks to the Lord for freeing Rev. Zongo from captivity. Please pray for the end of Islamic extremism and that those who persecute the church would find freedom in Christ.
For interviews, please contact Addison Parker: firstname.lastname@example.org.