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Two Catholic Priests in Nigeria Killed in Separate Attacks Over the Weekend

Late Fr. Vitus Borogo (left) killed by armed bandits in Nigeria’s Kaduna Archdiocese on 25 June 2022 and Late Fr. Christopher Odia killed by gunmen in Nigeria's Catholic Diocese of Auchi on 26 June 2022. Credit: CBCN

Two Catholic Priests were killed in separate attacks in their respective Nigerian Dioceses over the weekend, one in Kaduna Archdiocese on Saturday, June 25, and the other in Auchi Diocese on Sunday, June 26.

Aged 50, Fr. Vitus Borogo was killed on Saturday, June 25 at Prison Farm in Kaduna when “terrorists” raided the farm. Meanwhile, 41-year-old Fr. Christopher Odia was killed after having been abducted Sunday, June 26 morning as he left his Parish residence to go for Holy Mass.

In a statement shared with ACI Africa June 26, the Chancellor of Kaduna Archdiocese announces the death of Fr. Borogo, provides details of where he was killed, and conveys the message of condolences from the Local Ordinary of the Nigerian Metropolitan See, Archbishop Matthew Man-Oso Ndagoso.

“It is with a heavy heart, but with total submission to the will of God that we announce the death of Rev. Fr. Vitus Borogo,” Fr. Christian Okewu Emmanuel says in his statement dated June 25, adding that the “sad event took place today, at Prison Farm, Kujama, along Kaduna-Kachia Road, after a raid on the farm by Terrorists.”

He provides details about the late Catholic Priest saying, “Until his death, Fr. Vitus (aged 50) was the Chaplain of the Catholic Community of the Kaduna State Polytechnic, and the Chairman of the Nigerian Catholic Diocesan Priests Association (NCDPA), Kaduna Chapter.”

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“Most Rev. Matthew Man-Oso Ndagoso, the Catholic Archbishop of Kaduna, condoles with the immediate family, the NFCS (Nigeria Federation of Catholic Students) Family of Kaduna Polytechnic, and indeed the entire Kaduna Polytechnic Community; and assures them of his fraternal closeness and prayers,” the Chancellor of Kaduna Archdiocese says in his statement shared with ACI Africa.

Details of the late Fr. Borogo’s funeral arrangement will be announced “as soon as possible”, the Nigerian Catholic Priest further says.

“We commit his soul to the maternal intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and call on all men and women of goodwill to continue to pray for the peaceful repose of his soul and for the consolation of his bereaved family, especially his mother,” Fr. Okewu implores.

In another statement shared with ACI Africa, the Social Communications Director of Auchi Diocese announces, “with heavy hearts but with total submission to the will of God”, the killing of Fr. Odia.

In his statement dated June 26, Fr. Peter Egielewa says that his colleague “was killed by his abductors after being kidnapped this morning 26th June 2022 at about 6.30am in his rectory while coming out to go for Sunday Mass at St. Michael Catholic Church Ikabigbo, Uzairue, Edo State.”

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“Until his death, Fr. Odia was the Administrator of St. Michael Catholic Church, Ikabigbo and also the Principal of St. Philip Catholic Secondary School Jattu. He was aged 41. May his soul rest in peace,” Fr. Egielewa adds in his statement shared with ACI Africa.

The arrangements for the burial of the late Fr. Odia “will be announced by the Diocese later”, the Director of Social Communications of Auchi Diocese further says.

The West African nation of Nigeria “is grappling with a wave of violence by armed gangs who frequently carry out killings and kidnappings for ransom – mostly in unprotected rural communities,” BBC News reported in April.

Since 2009 when Boko Haram insurgency emerged with the aim of turning the country into an Islamic state, Nigeria has been experiencing insecurity.

Boko Haram, one of largest Islamist groups in Africa, has been orchestrating indiscriminate terrorist attacks on various targets, including religious and political groups as well as civilians.

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The insecurity situation has further been complicated by the involvement of the predominantly Muslim Fulani herdsmen, also referred to as the Fulani Militia, who have been clashing frequently with Christian farmers.

The latest murder of Fr. Borogo follows a series of other killings of members of the Clergy and Christian worshippers in Africa’s most populous nation.

On June 19, gunmen attacked worshippers at St. Moses Rubu church, one of the 17 outstations of St. Augustine’s Parish of Kaduna Archdiocese, Maranatha Baptist and Evangelical Church Winning All, all the churches in Kajuru Local Government Area (LGA) of Kaduna State.

“We lost three of our parishioners, and 36 people were kidnapped, the majority of whom were Catholics,” Fr. Francis Agba who is the Parish Priest of St. Augustine’s Parish told CNA, ACI Africa’s sister agency.

Fr. Agba added, “This is the third attack against this village in this month alone and the latest of 15 attacks in the 17 outstations of the parish this year.”

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On Pentecost Sunday, June 5, gunmen attacked St. Francis Xavier Owo Catholic Parish of Ondo Diocese leaving 39 Catholics killed and more than 80 injured.

Earlier this year, in March, Fr. Joseph Akete Bako, another Priest serving in Kaduna Archdiocese, was kidnapped by gunmen at his residence and his security guard killed. The leadership of Catholic Archdiocese later announced the passing on of Fr. Bako.

This story has been updated to include the Sunday, June 26 killing of Fr. Christopher Odia of Nigeria’s Auchi Diocese. The initial version of the story had been published under the headline, “Catholic Priest Killed after Terrorists Raid a Farm in Kaduna Archdiocese, Nigeria”