August 2, 2021

Nigerian Pastor kidnapped by ISWAP regains freedom after seven months

Rev. Polycarp Zongo

Jos, June 14, 2021: A Central Nigerian Pastor, Polycarp Zongo has regained freedom, seven months after he was kidnapped by Islamic State militants in Northeast Gombe State.

Zongo, the Pastor of Church of Christ in Nations (COCIN) Wild Life Park Jos was released on Monday along with some aide workers and and other hostages, local media reports.

A Senior Pastor of COCIN confirmed the release but said he had yet to personally speak with Zongo. However, a Living Faith Pastor and Activist who was part of negotiations for Zongo’s release, Rev. John Pofi said he spoke with Zongo “at length”.

“As of the last time I spoke with him which was about an hour ago, he had just been brought back from hospital where he underwent medical checkup,” Pofi told CSI.

A retired Brigadier General and reputed elder in COCIN, John Temlong also confirmed Zongo’s release in a WhatsApp group, CSI reports: “It is confirmed I spoke with Rev Polycarp Zongo about 5 minutes ago in Maiduguri. He has been released. To God be the glory,” Brig. Gen. Temlong (rtd) wrote in Plateau Our Heritage group at 7:07pm, Nigerian time.

Rev. Zongo was kidnapped on October 19, 2020 on his way to Gombe for a conference. A video of him appealing for his freedom was released a week later, but before negotiations could start, a hoax from unknown sources claimed that he had been released.

In November 2020, President of COCIN, Rev. Prof. Dacholom Datiri said the terrorists had demanded an “unbearable” ransom for his release. A source in the Department of State Services however said negotiations continued with an unnamed nongovernmental organization facilitating.