I See Overwhelming Faith in God Despite Attacks: Catholic Bishop in Nigeria

Bishop Mark Maigida Nzukwein of Nigeria’s Catholic Diocese of Wukari . Credit: Wukari Diocese

The Bishop of Nigeria’s Catholic Diocese of Wukari covering the Southern Taraba Zone that is facing communal clashes has said the faith of the people of God in the Diocese continues to grow against all odds, including incessant attacks against Christians.

In a Wednesday, November 8 interview with ACI Africa, Bishop Mark Maigida Nzukwein said that the Diocese was witnessing continuous abductions of Catholic Priests for ransom, amid other forms of  banditry perpetrated by killer islamist herdsmen and other organized criminal gangs.

 “Over 50 villages have been occupied and are under the siege by bandits and killer herdsmen and two hundred thousand people are presently displaced in my Diocese,” Bishop Maigida said.

“Killers are everywhere in my hometown in Takum. For over two farming seasons now the people can no longer go to farm as the Fulanis have taken over all the bushes and all the farmlands,” he said, and added, “We have over 200,000 people displaced in my hometown as I'm speaking to you now. As at the time I had my Episcopal Ordination in April this year, my people could not attend because they were under attack.”

Bishop Maigida said that despite the crisis, the displacement and the suffering, the people still have “overwhelming faith in God” and “a lot of confidence in the Church.”


“Our people believe that through the Mass and other praters, one day they will surmount these challenges and their suffering will be over,” the pioneer Bishop of the Nigerian Diocese which was created in December last year told ACI Africa.

He said that in the Diocese of Wukari, for instance, persecuted Christians see the Catholic Church as a rallying point and as their last hope for unity. 

“The more the people are attacked, the more they are even more committed to their faith and grow in their faith,” the Bishop said.

“Three weeks ago, I administered the Sacrament of Confirmation to 700 Catholics in one parish. Before that, I had administered to 534 Catholics in a neighboring parish and before my thanksgiving Mass, I administered the Sacrament of Confirmation to 345 candidates in military barracks,” he said, adding that the massive administration of sacraments in the Diocese is an indication that the faith of the people is not shaking. 

“The crisis serves as a springboard that strengthens their faith,” the Local Ordinary of Wukari Diocese said.

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Media reports indicate that the Southern Taraba Zone has been engrossed in various ethnic crises that continue to create tension, cost lives, and lead to the destruction of property and general instability in most parts of the zone.

The communities at the center of the clashes from the Southern zone are either between Kuteb/Jukun, Jukun/Tiv, or Tiv/Kuteb and now Ichen/Tiv.

To foster reconciliation specifically between the Jukun and the Tive, Fr. Anthony Odey of Wukari recently erected a 12-foot crucifix in the Diocese, hoping the gesture would “draw and invoke the spirit of prayers” to end the intractable decades-long war between the warrying tribes.

The area has seen a surge in cases of kidnappings for ransom.

On October 29, Fr. Thaddeus Tarhembe, the Parish Priest of St. Ann's Sarkin Kudu Parish of Nigeria’s Wukari was kidnapped and later released.


In the November 8 interview with ACI Africa, Bishop Maigida said, “There is a general Islamic agenda of conquest in the whole of the middle belt region of Nigeria including southern Kaduna, Plateau state, Nasarawa state, Benue and Taraba state.”

The 54-year-old Nigerian Bishop appealed for support for his Episcopal See, saying, “We are in dire need of help to cater for the needs of over two hundred thousand displaced Christians. We need help in the area of payment for school fees, feeding, provision of relief material and medicare for children and the elderly.”

The Bishop’s sentiments validate the findings of a recent report which says that Christianity continues to thrive and grow despite brutal repression and attempts by governments, groups, and individuals across the world to quash the faith.

Nigeria is one on the list of countries highlighted in the 2023 “Persecutors of the Year” report was released this month by the advocacy group International Christian Concern (ICC).

Abah Anthony John is a Nigerian Journalist with great enthusiasm and interest for Catholic Church Communication and Media Apostolate. He holds a Bachelor's degree in Mass Communication from Benue State University, Makurdi, Benue State Nigeria. He has vast experience in Print,  Electronic and Multi-Media Production.