“He paid for our freedom”: Nigerian Seminarian on Murdered Colleague

Michael Nnadi, seminarian killed after having been abducted alongside three others on 8 January 2020. Credit: Courtesy Photo

The January 2020 murder of Seminarian Michael Nnadi  while in captivity “paid for our freedom”, one of the four Nigerian Major Seminarians who had been abducted alongside Michael has said.

On 8 January 2020, four Nigerian Major Seminarians were reportedly taken away by men “wearing military uniform” from the Good Shepherd Major Seminary in Nigeria’s Catholic Archdiocese of Kaduna.

The abduction occurred when “bandits accessed the school dormitory where two hundred and sixty eight (268) students were being accommodated,” the police spokesman in Kaduna State, Yakubu Sabo was quoted as saying.

In a Wednesday, March 8 webinar meeting that the Catholic Pontifical and charity foundation, Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) International, organized, Seminarian Pius Tabat recalled his experience in the hands of the abductors, including the ordeal of being flogged “every day without pity”.

“I feel it was not a coincidence that after he was killed, four days later we were released; it was like he paid the price for our freedom,” Seminarian Tabat said in reference to his late colleague, Seminarian Michael who was reportedly killed for “preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ” to his captors.


Upon hearing gunshots on the night of the abduction, Seminarian Tabat recalled, “we immediately woke up not knowing what was happening at the compound. Upon reaching the door, guns were pointed at our heads, and the four of us were asked to go out.”

The gunmen asked two of the four Seminarians to return to their Seminary hostel and collected their phones before leading them alongside the other two through the fence of the Good Shepherd Major Seminary. 

Seminarian Tabat further recalled that it was after they had gotten into the nearby bush that they heard the police sirens, adding that it was already late.

“We walked on foot for about three to four hours not knowing where we were going. Then we came to a point where we had two motorbikes and were carried two on each bike and started another journey which lasted for about an hour,” the Nigerian Seminarian recalled during the March 8 virtual conference that CAN organized under the theme, “Nigeria at the crossroads”. 

The final destination was their captors’ tent, which had seven captives when they arrived in the early hours on the following day.

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Contacting kinspersons for ransom negotiations followed, he recalled, saying in reference to their abductors, “They called us, later on, to come and communicate with our guardians and parents and inform them that we have been kidnapped.”

“Communicating with our parents or guardians became routine for about two weeks,” Seminarian Tabat said, further recalling, “After the calls in the morning, we would be asked to go and sit under the shade of the tree being blindfolded for the most part of the day, from daybreak to late in the evening.”

Under the tree, he went on to recall, “you were not supposed to lie down even when having a backache. In all that, we were still being flogged and you would not know who is flogging you.”

“These people kept flogging us every day without pity. In the evening, they would tell us to moo like cows, or bleat like goats just for their amusements,” the Nigerian Seminarian said during the virtual meeting that had had about 50 participants including the ACN Director of Projects, Regina Lynch, and Archbishop Matthew Man-oso Ndagoso of Kaduna Archdiocese.

The abductees would be told to sing church songs and dance to them amid flogging, he recalled. 


They were to feed from a single “very dirty” container. The Seminarian narrated, “They served us with rice in a very dirty container that they used to fill fuel in their motorbikes.”

“Sometimes we ate once in a day and very few times twice,” he further shared, and added, “Bathing was not there; the clothes we went with are the same cloth we came back still wearing.”

After one of the four Seminarians was freed in a critical condition, the three decided to engage in a collective Novena prayer to give each other hope and encouragement. 

“Every week before our release, we started a collective kind of novena prayer, where every person would lead for three days, one Our Father, one Hail Mary, and one Glory be to the Father, and then followed by some encouragements,” he recalled. 

He added, “Seminarian Nnadi did not finish his shift; he was killed on the second day he was supposed to lead the prayers.”

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On the day that Seminarian Michael Nnadi was killed, Seminarian Tabat recalled the leader of the abductors who had been their tent of captivity regularly asking them, “You people are still here? They have not killed you?”

The abductor would later break to them the news of Seminarian Michael’s death, and urge them to remain faithful to their captors lest they be killed the following day.

“That night was one of the longest nights in my life. When morning came, they gave us phones to call our parents and bid them goodbye before they kill us. We did and went back to the tent living our lives in the hands of God,” he narrated.

He continued, “We were not killed that day; three days later, after they had killed our brother, they told us that we are going to be released. It sounded too good to be true, after spending 24 days in captivity.”

Speaking at the March 8 virtual event, Archbishop Ndagoso said that being in charge of souls, and listening to such painful stories as narrated by Seminarian Tabat is what they go through as shepherds.

The Local Ordinary of Kaduna Archdiocese said that his Metropolitan See covers the region that has been a center of violence for a long time “even before the Boko Haram militia group started.”

He said that some of the conflicts in Kaduna Archdiocese “are ethnoreligious, some purely religious and lot of them just total conflicts.”

“Kaduna is dominantly inhabited by Muslims and as you go further to the north, the number of Christians keeps decreasing. It is very difficult to get permission to build churches; a license to build a social center is easily given but not a church,” he said.

The 63-year-old Archbishop who started his Episcopal Ministry in May 2003 as Bishop of Nigeria’s Maiduguri Diocese added, “Christians in this part of the country live in persecution.”

Silas Mwale Isenjia is a Kenyan journalist with a great zeal and interest for Catholic Church related communication. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Linguistics, Media and Communication from Moi University in Kenya. Silas has vast experience in the Media production industry. He currently works as a Journalist for ACI Africa.