, 27 April, 2020 / 11:30 PM
Details of three people suspected to have participated in the kidnapping and the later killing of the 18-year-old Nigerian Seminarian have been given, the security agencies in Nigeria saying they have intensified their search for other members of the “deadly criminal gang.”
“Police Operatives have arrested a deadly criminal gang responsible for the kidnap and murder of a Catholic Seminarian, Nnadi Michael of the Catholic Good Shepherd Major Seminary at Gonin Gora, Kakau in Chikun LGA of Kaduna State,” Nigeria’s Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP), Frank Mba announced in a Press Release dated April 26.
In the Press statement, the Abuja-based security official provides the details of the three suspects who, according to information gathered through “discreet investigations,” are part of a 19-man gang behind multiple abductions and murders.
The three suspects include 37-year-old Tukur Osman, a father of seven children; Shehu Bello, a 40-year-old father of five children; and Mustapha Mohammed who is aged 30 and has one child.
Natives of Igabi, one of the Local Government Areas (LGA) of Kaduna State, Northwest Nigeria, all the three suspects “were arrested after several months of intensive and extensive intelligence-led operations by crack detectives of the Intelligence Response Team (IRT),” Mr. Mba stated in his Press Release seen by ACI Africa.
Michael Nnadi, a native of Nigeria’s Sokoto diocese, was murdered late January 2020 after having been kidnapped by gunmen camouflaged in military uniform on the night of January 8 alongside three other Seminarians from the Good Shepherd Major Seminary located in Kaduna State.
All the four were first year philosophy students. The other three, who were later released were Pius Kanwai, 19; Peter Umenukor, 23; and Stephen Amos, 23.
According to DCP Mba, the three suspects in police custody “are part of a 19-man gang that also carried out the kidnap of Dr Phillip Ataga’s wife and two daughters on January 24, 2020 at Juji Community in Chikun LGA of Kaduna State.”
“Mrs Ataga was killed by the gang following her heroic resistance to the despicable and inhuman attempt by the leader of the gang to rape her,” Mr. Mba revealed in his statement and added in reference to the late doctor’s wife, “after killing her (the abductors) released the daughters and corpse of the slain woman to the family after collecting ransom.”
The same 19-man gang was “responsible for the kidnap of six students and two teachers of Engravers College, Chikun LGA, Kaduna, from their school premises on October 3, 2019,” Mr. Mba stated in his April 26 statement to the press.
“The suspects, known to belong to a hybrid terrorist criminal network causing untold havoc in North-Central, Nigeria, have confessed to several other random operations along Abuja-Kaduna Expressway where they kidnapped, killed and robbed motorists, collecting ransom and valuables running into millions of naira,” Mr. Mba who is the Public Relations Officer of the Police Force in Nigeria disclosed in his Press Release.
The Police Force “will remain unrelenting in ensuring that crimes across the country are reduced to the barest minimum,” Mr. Mba stated and based on the reassurance the country’s Inspector General of Police M.A. Adamu, added, “the Force will not rest until the other members of the gang also responsible for the above crimes, but currently on the run, are apprehended and brought to book.”
Michael Nnadi was one of the victims of increased kidnappings targeting Christians in the West African country, a situation that prompted the Bishop of Sokoto to express serious concern about the insecurity of church members, calling on the government to prioritize the security of its citizens.
During his burial, Bishop Kukah expressed the hope that Michael’s death would become a turning point for Christian persecution in Africa’s most populous nation.
The Nigerian Bishop described the killing of Michael Nnadi, an orphan brought up by the grandmother, as a “moment of decision” and explained, “This is the moment that separates darkness from light, good from evil. Our nation is like a ship stranded on the high seas, rudderless and with broken navigational aids. Today, our years of hypocrisy, duplicity, fabricated integrity, false piety, empty morality, fraud and Pharisaism have caught up with us. Nigeria is on the crossroads and its future hangs precariously in a balance. This is a wakeup call for us.”
Many who could not take part in the burial of the late seminarian on February 11 followed the event online, with reports indicating that at least 5,000 people lit candles in his memory.
ACI Africa was officially inaugurated on August 17, 2019 as a continental Catholic news agency at the service of the Church in Africa. Headquartered in Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, this media apostolate will strive to facilitate the telling of Africa’s story by providing media coverage of Catholic events on the African continent, giving visibility to the activities of the Church across Africa where statistics show significant growth in numbers and the continent gradually becoming the axis of Catholicism. This is expected to contribute to an awareness of and appreciation for the significant role of the Church in Africa and over time, the realization of a realistic image of Africa that often receives negative media framing.
Father Don Bosco Onyalla
Editor-in-Chief, ACI Africa