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Prayers Sought for “quick, safe release” of Catholic Priest in Nigeria’s Kafanchan Diocese

Fr. Benson Bulus Luka, kidnapped from his Parish residence in Nigeria’s Kafanchan Diocese on 13 September 2021. Credit: Kafanchan Diocese

Prayers are being sought for the “quick and safe release” of a Catholic Priest kidnapped from his Parish residence in Nigeria’s Kafanchan Diocese.

“It is with great pain that we announce to you the kidnapping of our Priest, Rev. Fr. Benson Bulus Luka,” the Chancellor of Kafanchan Diocese, Fr. Emmanuel Uchechukwu, says in a statement shared with ACI Africa Tuesday, September 14.

Fr. Uchechukwu explains, “The sad event occurred on Monday, September 13, 2021 at about 8.45 p.m. He was abducted from his residence at St. Matthew's Catholic Church, Anchuna, in Zango Kataf Local Government Area of Kaduna State.”

The Chancellor of the Nigerian Diocese that is within the Ecclesiastical Province of Kaduna in Central Northern Nigeria calls for calm and urges “intense prayer”.

“While we solicit for an intense prayer for his quick and safe release, we equally wish to call on all and sundry to refrain from taking the laws into their hands,” Fr. Uchechukwu says.

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He continues, “We will use every legitimate means to ensure his quick and safe release.”

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

Since then, the group, 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.

The insecurity situation in the country 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 over grazing land.

In his September 14 statement, the Chancellor of Kafanchan Diocese implores, “May Jesus crucified on the Cross, listen to our prayers and hasten the unconditional release of His Priest and all other kidnapped persons.”

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The latest abduction of Fr. Benson Bulus Luka follows a series of other kidnappings of members of the Clergy in Africa’s most populous nation.

In April, gunmen kidnapped Fr. Izu Marcel Onyeocha, a member of the Congregation of Missionaries, Sons of the Immaculate Heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Claretians). He was later freed.

In May, St. Vincent Ferrer Malunfashi Catholic Parish of Nigeria’s Sokoto Diocese was attacked and two Priests kidnapped. One of them, Fr. Alphonsus Bello, the 33-year-old Fidei Donum Priest incardinated in Nigeria’s Kaduna Archdiocese, was killed; the other Priest, Fr. Joe Keke, 75, was later released.

In July, a Priest serving in Nigeria’s Maiduguri Diocese, Fr. Elijah Juma Wada, was abducted and later escaped after spending nine days with his abductors.

Last month, Catholic Bishops in Nigeria decried the rise in cases of abductions, killings, and property destruction, calling upon the government to “take full responsibility for the present culture of violence.”

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“Deaths in the hands of kidnappers, killer herdsmen, bandits, terrorist groups have made Nigeria one of the most terrorized countries in the world,” members of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria (CBCN) said in their August 26 statement.

While recognizing the efforts being made by relevant authorities to tackle insecurity in the West African nation, the Catholic Church leaders underscored the need for Muhammadu Buhari-led government “to show more strategic commitment and sincerity in this fight and take full responsibility for the present culture of violence and impunity in the country.”

“The Government must be balanced and seen to be so in its response to the challenges of insecurity in every segment of the citizenry,” the Catholic Bishops in Nigeria said in their communiqué following their August 19-27 second Plenary Assembly held in Nigeria’s Enugu Diocese.