“On Friday, 1st November, 2019, four gunmen went into the Presbytery of Kembong Parish,” the Bishop recounted another incidence of harassment where armed men confronted “the parish priest and his assistant at gunpoint and (ordered) that they must be given one million Francs CFA before they are released.”
Though the Priests were released in that unfortunate incidence, the Bishop revealed that the attacks on priests were targeted on him “because he attended the National Dialogue in Yaounde” and that all those who attended the dialogue from the locality must pay a fine.
“What was painful about these abductions is that some of the Christians knew either hours or days beforehand that this would happen and never warned the priests,” the Bishop lamented and probed, “What is the crime of these priests?”
In the letter, Bishop Nkea lauded priests who have continued to serve despite their personal security saying, “Through the heavy gun shots, the fire and the dangers to life, our heroic priests remained among their people as true shepherds who would never abandon their sheep in times of danger.”
He further stated, “This pastoral consciousness and commitment even ended up in the tragic death of Rev. Fr. Cosmas Ondari Omboto. Yet the priests did not feel discouraged and they did not abandon their flock.”
Blaming the attacks on the separatists fighters, the Bishop expressed the need for some guarantee of the safety of the priests before they can be reassigned saying, “These boys who harass the priests are from these villages, and until the population dialogue with their children and give me a written guarantee of the safety of the pastors who work for them, the parishes will remain without pastors.”
Addressing himself to the separatist fighters, Bishop Nkea described them as “boys who have caused this embarrassment to the entire Christian community and their villages” and appealed that they “change their hearts and work towards the growth and progress of their various communities.”
He also called on the separatist fighters to “collaborate with their village and Christian leaders, so that their priests can return soonest to their parishes and continue to work in peace.”
He invited all Christians “to appreciate and value their priests especially for the services they render to them.”
“Your priests love you and they are ready to continue serving you with all their hearts, their minds and their energy,” he concluded.