James Abraham and Ada Wodu
• After 84 days in captivity, C’River NLC chair released
After seven months in Boko Haram captivity, a pastor with the Church of Christ in Nations, Rev Polycarp Zongo, has regained his freedom.
Zongo, who presides over a branch of the church in Jos, Plateau State, was kidnapped by the terrorists on October 19, 2020.
He was on a journey to a ministers’ conference in Gombe State when he was abducted by the insurgents.
About 12 days after the abduction, his church members and well-wishers gathered on the church premises at the Low Cost area of Jos in jubilation when the news of his release filtered in, but the information turned out to be untrue, a development which left the people and his family members traumatised.
Zongo’s abductors, according to the President of COCIN, Rev Dachollom Datiri, had demanded a “huge” ransom, which the church could not afford, and since then, the leadership of the church had been calling for his unconditional release until Monday, when the pastor eventually regained his freedom.
A peace advocate and President of the Gideon & Funmi Para-Mallam Peace Foundation, Rev Gideon Para-Mallam, confirmed Zongo’s release to our correspondent in Jos on Tuesday.
Para-Mallam, who said he had spoken to the pastor, added that he was freed in Maiduguri, Borno State, by his abductors alongside others victims.
Para-Mallam stated, “I just spoke with him. His release, this time, is true.
“He was released on Monday night by his abductors in Maiduguri and I was told that he would soon return to Jos any moment from now. We really thank God for sparing his life after several months in captivity.”
Meanwhile, the Chairman of the Cross River State branch of the Nigeria Labour Congress, Benedict Ukpepi, has regained his freedom 84 days after he was abducted.
The state Vice Chairman of the union, Lawrence Achuta, announced Ukpepi’s freedom in a statement on Tuesday.
The statement read, “This is to inform you that the NLC Chairman of the Cross River State Council, Ben Ukpepi, was released by his captors yesterday (Monday) around 3.30pm.
“Recall that Ben Ukpepi was kidnapped from his CROSPIL Estate residence in Akpabuyo on March 21, 2021.
“We are very glad and thankful to God Almighty for his safe release by the kidnappers. I use this opportunity to thank the organised labour family in the state, particularly the Nigeria Labour Congress, and his union, the Medical and Health Workers Union, and some members of his family. He is undergoing some routine medical checks at the moment.
“Once again, I thank all who stood by us through this difficult moment.”