A Nigerian priest who was kidnapped and held ransom on Christmas Eve recalled his experience at Mass last week, saying prayer is what saved him.
Fr Cajetan Apeh, a recently ordained priest assigned to St Theresa’s Parish in Anam, was kidnapped along with the church’s pastor on December 24. The two priests were ambushed while returning from gathering supplies in preparation for the visit of Cardinal Francis Arinze on Christmas Day.
According to Vanguard Nigeria, Apeh described the four-day ordeal to the congregation after Mass on January 1, the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God. The Mass took place at St Joseph’s Church in Enugu Ezike.
Apeh said the priests, who initially thought it to be robbery, were abducted by four Fulani herdsmen with AK47s and left to survive with very little food and water.
“After searching and taking all our possessions, including some loafs of bread, they led us into the bush where two of us were given half a loaf of the wheat bread they took from us for four days before our release to our superior, who drove from Enugu to Anam on the instruction of the herdsmen,” he said.
They were not permitted to talk, were given a small amount of water to share per day and they weren’t provided with adequate clothing to keep warm in the bitter cold.
Several authorities in Anambra, including the Police Mobile Force and Federal Special Anti-robbery Squad, had been involved with a massive search for the priests.
As a result of the joint operations, the abductors were forced to release the two men on December 27. Abeh said prayer was a major factor in their release.