Catholic Priest Kidnapped in Sunday Attack on Nigerian Parish, Diocese Appeals for Prayers

Fr. Thaddeus Tarhembe, the Parish Priest of St. Ann's Parish of Wukari Diocese located in Nigeria’s Taraba State was kidnapped from the Parish rectory at midnight. Credit: Catholic Diocese of Wukari

The Catholic Diocese of Wukari in Nigeria is appealing for prayers for the safe release of one of the Priests in the Diocese who was kidnapped by “unknown people” on Sunday, October 29.

Fr. Thaddeus Tarhembe, the Parish Priest of St. Ann's Parish of Wukari Diocese located in Nigeria’s Taraba State was kidnapped from the Parish rectory at midnight, the Communications Director of the Nigerian Diocese has told ACI Africa.

“Armed men attacked the parish and took Father Thaddeus. They scaled the wall and started shooting. They then broke into the house where father was sleeping and took him away,” Fr. John Jerome Laikei said in the Monday, October 30 interview, adding that Fr. Thaddeus was alone in the Priests' house when the incident occurred.

Fr. Jerome also said, “Although the Church compound has a few other people staying there, including stewards, the armed men targeted the Priest's house and took Father Thaddeus.” 

The Communications Director of the Diocese of Wukari told ACI Africa that nothing has been heard of the whereabouts of the abductors.


“We don't know the whereabouts of father Thaddeus either. We are hoping that the abductors will call us to make their demands for our brother to come back to us safely,” he added.

In a plea for solidarity with the kidnapped Priest, Fr. Jerome says, in a statement shared with ACI Africa, “We solicit prayers from all people of good will for his safety and quick release by his abductors. May God bless you as you join us in prayers for God's intervention.”

Fr. Thaddeus’ kidnapping comes barely two days after residents of Pupule community in Yorro Local Council of Taraba State woke up to the news of the abduction of six people in the State.

In the October 30 interview with ACI Africa, Fr. Jerome said that incidents of kidnapping and killings targeting Christians have hit an all-time high in the State.

“We have lost many of our Church members in these kidnappings and killings,” he said, adding that the October 29 attack is the first time that the kidnappers have entered St. Ann's Parish, which is located in Ibi Local Government Area of Taraba State.

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Members of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) in Nigeria’s Taraba State have joined the call of the public to end insecurity in the state, which is located in northeastern Nigeria and is bordered by equally volatile Benue, Nasarawa and Plateau States. These States are ravaged by various violent groups including armed Fulani herdsmen.

In an October 25 statement that CAN Taraba Chapter Chairperson, Rev. Isaiah Magaji Jirapye, signed, members of the Christian entity that includes representatives of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Nigeria (CBCN) said that they were “saddened by the nefarious activities of kidnappers which are targeted on Christian clergymen and their families.”

“CAN is worried that local Communities and villages are no longer safe as they are attacked frequently by these bad elements without caution and regard to humanity,” the Christian leaders said, and added, “This must not be allowed to continue to happen, the government should prioritize the security of the local communities across the state.”

They called for security presence to be “felt in the local communities”, adding, “The people should support security agencies with intelligence that will uncover the hideout of the criminals in their midst.”

The Christian leaders in Tabara State called on believers “to raise family altars and cry to God” for the end of insecurity in the State.


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.