ABUJA, Nigeria — The head of the Methodist Church Nigeria regained his freedom a day after being kidnapped by unknown gunmen in the country’s southeast, police told The Associated Press late Monday.

Samuel Kanu Uche was kidnapped Sunday along with two other senior clerics along a highway in the Umunneochi area in southeastern Abia state. Police spokesman Geoffrey Ogbonna said the two clerics were also freed, but he did not provide details of their release.

Nigeria is Africa’s most populous nation and abductions for ransom have been a worrying trend.

Though the abductions are more rampant in the troubled northwestern Nigeria, the southeast has also grappled with violent attacks in recent years. Authorities have accused members of the Indigenous People of Biafra, a leading separatist group, of being behind many of the attacks.

The leadership of the Christian Association of Nigeria had condemned the kidnapping and called on Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari to “stop the incessant abduction of clerics and other innocent Nigerians.”

“If a great servant of God of Uche’s caliber could be kidnapped like a three-year-old baby on a major road without any resistance from the police, it speaks volumes of what our security architecture has become,” the association said.