Apprehending Mastermind in Killing of Nigerian Seminarian “a welcome development”, Activist Calls for More Arrests

Seminarian Na'aman Danlami died when the Fulanis attacked St. Raphael Fadan Kamantan Parish on the night of Thursday, 7 September 2023. Credit: ACN

International Society for Civil Liberties and Rule of Law (Intersociety), a Catholic-inspired human rights foundation in Nigeria is calling for more arrests following the nabbing of the leader of the gang suspected to have killed a Seminarian in a torching incident last September

Nigerian authorities announced the March 22 arrest of Yakubu Saidu, a suspected bandit leader, who allegedly masterminded the 7 September 2023 attack on St. Raphael Catholic Church of Nigeria’s Catholic Diocese of Kafanchan. Seminarian Na'aman Danlami was burnt alive in the incident.

In a Wednesday, March 27 interview with ACI Africa,  Emeka Umeagbalasi, Intersociety Board Chair, described the arrest of Saidu as “a welcome development” and called for a more comprehensive counterinsurgency operation in Africa’s most populous nation. 

“We hope that this single arrest is not a camouflage,” Umeagbalasi said, and added, “As far as Intersociety is concerned, the arrest of this man is just an isolated case until the Federal government sets aside all forms of partisanship, parochialism, and rise to the occasion by going after those responsible for these attacks, including those within their ranks.”

“We call for the arrest of more Fulani jihadists whether they call themselves bandits or herdsmen. And we call for a very comprehensive counterinsurgency operation against these killers in all their hideouts,” he said.


In another March 27 interview with ACI Africa, the Communication Director of the Diocese of Kafanchan, Fr. Okafor Gabriel, said he did not have details of Saidu’s arrest, and added, “However, I just spoke with the new priest in charge of St Raphael's Catholic Church, Fadan Kamantan, Kaduna State, and he hinted to me that the Police just invited a representative of the parish to write a statement on the matter.”

Saidu’s reported arrest comes months after the first arrest, in October last year, of militants who were suspected to have been involved in the killing of Seminarian Danlami.

25-year-old Danlami was killed when Fulani bandits set the rectory of St. Raphael Fadan Kamantan Parish ablaze in what was confirmed as a kidnapping attempt.

Bishop Julius Yakubu Kundi of the Catholic Diocese of Kafanchan said the attackers were aiming to kidnap the Parish Priest.

“When they failed in their attempt to enter the father's house, they set it on fire. The two priests were able to escape but, terribly, the seminarian was burned inside,” Bishop Kundi said, and added, “The assault lasted more than an hour, but there was no reaction or support from the military forces. A kilometer away there is a checkpoint, but there was a total absence of reaction.”

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In the March 27 interview with ACI Africa, the Intersociety Board Chair decried the laxity of Nigerian authorities in stemming insurgency in the West African nation. Instead, the authorities have allowed jihadists to operate with impunity, Umeagbalasi said. 

“Intersociety has, on several occasions, raised alarm and expressed our deepest concern over the lukewarm attitude of the Federal government of Nigeria and security agencies concerning insurgency in this country. They have, for a very long time, created the culture of impunity for the perpetrators of insurgency and given them state protection to carry out atrocities against Christians and a few Muslims who do not agree with them,” the official of Intersociety told ACI Africa.

He expressed concern that killer Fulani herdsmen, in particular, had spread across Nigeria using what he described as “primitive and old systems and additional networks which the Buhari-led government created.”

He said that using their networks, including those in government, the jihadists had been “responsible for the massacres of tens of thousands of Christians and destruction of means of livelihood and the sacred places of worship and learning.”

The Intersociety boss called for equal treatment of Nigerians regardless of their religious affiliations, and added, “Until security forces of Nigeria get rid of their partisanship and ethno-religious divisiveness, the situation of Christians is not expected to improve in the near future.”


“If you want to rear a cow, you must rear a cow lawfully. If you want to be a resident in another state, you must reside there lawfully,” Umeagbalasi said.

He added, “You cannot carry arms and ammunition and enter into indigenous communities and villages attacking those you find there, killing them and burning their property, and then claim that you are in communion with them.”

Agnes Aineah is a Kenyan journalist with a background in digital and newspaper reporting. She holds a Master of Arts in Digital Journalism from the Aga Khan University, Graduate School of Media and Communications and a Bachelor's Degree in Linguistics, Media and Communications from Kenya's Moi University. Agnes currently serves as a journalist for ACI Africa.