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Nigeria's kidnapped Christian leader rescued

Wed 25, December 2013 Kategori Africa
Former Primate of the Anglican Church of Nigeria Peter Akinola was rescued a few hours after his abduction in Abeokuta, southwestern Ogun State.

"The Primate has been rescued from his abductors by a team of security officials attached to the Ogun State governor Ibikunle Amosun," Sola Balogun, an aide to the governor, told Anadolu Agency.

"His vehicle was also rescued as the abductors fled the scene when the security officials arrived at their hideout," he added.

"The governor himself led his security details on a manhunt for the kidnappers," Balogun asserted.

He couldn't confirm whether any of the abductors was arrested.

"The primate, escorted by policemen, is already on his way home as I speak to you."

Akinola's telephones were switched off when AA sought to confirm his release and his brief abduction experience.

Ogun State Police spokesman Muyiwa Adejobi also confirmed the rescue operation.

"Yes, I'm glad to confirm that papa has been rescued," he told AA.

Akinola is one of Nigeria's most reverenced and influential non-political leaders.

He was primate of the Anglican Church, which has branches across most parts of Nigeria, between 2000 and 2010.

His tenure as president of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), which boasts a membership of nearly 52 million Catholics, Protestants and independent Christians, is a reference point for his successors who are often asked to emulate his frank positions on issues affecting the poor and his good relations with the Muslim community.

Akinola's prompt rescue, just hours after he was picked off, is arguably one of the most successful rescue operations ever conducted by any of the Nigeria's security agencies.

Several cases of kidnapping and assassination, including those of prominent politicians and senior citizens, remain unresolved.

Kidnapping is rare in southwest Nigeria, unlike in the southeastern and the oil-rich delta where kidnappers often abduct people and demand ransom before their release.

The last high-profile kidnapping in the region was in 2012 when a serving council chairman was abducted for days before police secured his release and prosecuted his abductors.

Christians constitute about 40 percent of Nigeria's population, while Muslims are said to boast roughly 50 percent, according to the Pew Research and other sources. Christians dispute this figure, claiming to be in the majority.

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