Armed kidnappers abducted the wife of Anglican Bishop Emmanuel Maduwuike in the southwest of Nigeria Thursday, according to local reports.
The victim, Mrs. Anuri Maduwuike, was accosted at gunpoint Thursday while returning home from Owerri, Imo State, according to an unnamed eyewitness, and kidnappers took her to an unknown destination.
The “wife of the Anglican bishop of Ikeduru Diocese Mrs. Anuri Maduwuike, was kidnapped on Thursday by unknown gunmen,” said a second source, Emperror Iwuala.
“We need prayers for God’s intervention for the safety and freedom of the Lord’s handmaid,” he said.
The public relations officer for state police, Orlando Ikeokwu, also confirmed the incident, adding that Mrs. Maduwuike’s abductors had not yet established contact with her family.
The kidnapping took place just a day after gunmen killed five people in a pre-dawn attack on the Imo community.
Nigeria experiences a high level of anti-Christian persecution and ranks 12th on Open Doors 2019 World Watch list of the 50 countries where it is most difficult to be a Christian.
Some 91 million Christians live in Nigeria, comprising roughly 46 percent of the country’s total population of 196 million. There are a similar number of Muslims in Nigeria – over 90 million.
A 2018 report from the Fides news agency declared that at least 447 Christian missionaries had “died violently” in the first 17 years of the third millennium.
Five bishops, 313 priests, three deacons, 61 religious men and women, 16 seminarians, three members of institutes of consecrated life, 42 lay people, and four volunteers were killed while carrying out missionary work, Fides said.
Since most Christians live in the south of the country, anti-Christian persecution tends to concentrate in the Muslim-dominated north and middle belt, but even in the south, persecution is real.
In 2016, missionary Lazarus Nwafor, a 26-year-old seminarian from Imo State, was beheaded by Muslim Fulani herdsmen during an attack in the community of Ndiagu Attakwu.