Nowhere Safe, “nobody knows his fate”: Catholic Bishop on Insecurity in Nigeria’s Capital

Bishop Stephen Dami Mamza of the Catholic Diocese of Yola in Nigeria. Credit: ACI Africa

Insecurity in Abuja, Nigeria, is worsening with residents of the West African nation’s Federal Capital Territory (FCT) fearing for their lives even in the confines of their houses, a Catholic Bishop has said.

In an interview with ACI Africa, Bishop Stephen Dami Mamza emphasized the need for “drastic action” to address insecurity that is threatening livelihoods in the capital city of Africa’s most populous nation.

“The insecurity in Abuja has become worse. Kidnapping is everywhere, even within Abuja city. Nobody knows his fate; nobody knows whether you can go out and come back. In your house you are not safe; on the road, you are not safe; on your farm, you are not safe. There's nowhere that people are safe at the moment,” Bishop Mamza said during the Friday, January 26 interview.

The Local Ordinary of the Catholic Diocese of Yola in Nigeria, who doubles as the 2nd Vice President of the Symposium of Episcopal Conference of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM) responsible for Justice Peace and Development Commission spoke to ACI Africa on the sidelines of the four-day joint seminar that brought together representatives from SECAM and the Council of European Bishops' Conferences (CCEE).

To underscore the insecurity challenge in Nigeria’s FCT, he said, “At the moment, the northeast, which had been threatened by Boko Haram, looks to be a little bit safer now than Abuja.”


“Insecurity in Nigeria seems now to be moving from even the lands coming back to the city,” Bishop Mamza said, adding that the situation of insecurity in Abuja raises questions about the integrity of the country's security apparatus.

“If this kind of banditry and violence is moving closer to the city, we have to ask who is controlling it. Are they aiming to take over the government because for somebody to have that courage to take the violence into the city there must be an agenda; there must be some sort of funding towards that,” he observed. 

The Nigerian Catholic Bishop, who has been at the helm of Yola Diocese since his Episcopal Consecration in April 2011 emphasized the “need for drastic action to take place in Abuja otherwise the bandits are going to take control of Abuja.”

According to Truth Nigeria, “more than 70 persons have been kidnapped and no fewer than three others killed by unidentified gunmen” in Abuja.

The Truth Nigeria’s January 23 report with the headline, “Nigerian capital under siege by kidnappers and bandits” indicates that on January 17, the Inspector General of the Nigeria Police, Olukayode Egbetokun, set up a Special Intervention Squad to tackle terrorism in the FCT.

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On January 18, two persons, including the wife of a lawyer, Cyril Adikwu, and his in-law were abducted by gunmen who invaded the Nigerian Army Estate in Abuja, the report further indicates.

In a separate interview with ACI Africa, Bishop Emmanuel Adetoyese Badejo of Nigeria’s Oyo Diocese said the West African nation is experiencing “a very difficult time” amid security challenges.

“We have not yet been able to put a finger on why it has increased all of a sudden because the capital used to be pretty safe, but at this moment it is a very difficult time,” Bishop Badejo said, and added, “Families are being kidnapped, soldiers being killed, policemen being killed.”

While there have been kidnappings and attacks across the country, he said, “the capital has never had it so bad and it is something to worry about.”

The Local Ordinary of Oyo Diocese, who doubles as the President of the Pan-African Episcopal Committee for Social Communications (CEPACS), an entity of SECAM, said Nigerians are hoping that the government will be “on top of things” soon.


“We keep praying and hoping for the best,” Bishop Badejo told ACI Africa on the sidelines of the seventh joint seminar of the representatives from SECAM and CCEE, which concluded on January 26

Magdalene Kahiu is a Kenyan journalist with passion in Church communication. She holds a Degree in Social Communications from the Catholic University of Eastern Africa (CUEA). Currently, she works as a journalist for ACI Africa.