Catholic Priest Murdered on Christmas Eve in Nigeria to Be Laid to Rest on New Year Eve

Poster following the murder of Fr. Luke Mewhenu Adeleke of the Catholic Diocese of Abeokuta on the eve of Christmas 2021. Credit: Courtesy

The Catholic Priest who was murdered on the eve of Christmas Day in the Diocese of Abeokuta in Nigeria is to be laid to rest this Friday, December 31, the leadership of the Nigerian Episcopal See has announced.

Fr. Luke Mewhenu Adeleke who was returning to his residence at St. Anthony Ijemo-Fadipe Parish of Abeokuta Diocese after celebrating Holy Mass at Ogunmakin, an outstation of the Parish in Nigeria’s Obafemi-Owode Local Government area, Ogun State, died of gunshot wounds inflicted by “unknown gunmen”, multiple sources have confirmed the December 24 incident to ACI Africa.

“The attackers fired at his vehicle and the bullets hit his legs, making him lose a lot of blood and died in his car,” the Nigeria Catholic Network (NCN) has reported December 26, adding that the body of the late Parish Priest “was later deposited at the mortuary in the Sacred Heart Hospital, Lantoro, Abeokuta.”

In a circular announcing funeral arrangements of the 37-year-old Nigerian Catholic Priest obtained by ACI Africa, the leadership of Abeokuta Diocese writes, “With deep sorrow and a heavy heart and yet with total submission to the will of God, the Bishop, Most Rev. Peter Kayode Odetoyinbo, the Clergy, Religious and Lay Faithful of the Catholic Diocese of Abeokuta, announce the passing unto glory of Rev. Fr. Luke Adeleke who died on the 24th December, 2021.

The circular indicates that the burial of the member of the Clergy of Abeokuta Diocese, which is to take place at the Catholic Bishop’s Court, Onikoko, Abeokuta on New Year eve will be preceded by Holy Mass at Ss. Peter and Paul Catholic Cathedral.


A “farewell Mass” is to be celebrated on Thursday, December 30 at the Parish the late Priest was serving, the circular that also announces a series of Vigil Masses on Thursday-Friday night indicates.

In an earlier message seen by ACI Africa, the Director of Social Communications encourages members of the Clergy to offer Eucharistic celebrations in honor Fr. Adeleke.

“Kindly offer Masses and prayers for the repose of his soul. May God grant him eternal rest. Amen,” Fr. Gregory Fadele says in his message in reference to the late Priest who was to celebrate his fifth Priestly Anniversary on 21 January 2022.

The murder of Fr. Adeleke confirms the concerns Christian leaders in Africa’s most populous nation have been expressing about insecurity in the country that seems to target followers of Jesus Christ.

In August, church leaders under the auspices of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) called on the Muhammadu Buhari-led government to go beyond statements and meetings and address the country’s challenge of insecurity or admit defeat and “throw in the towel.”

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“Stopping killing of the innocent by the criminals cannot be done by merely issuing press statements and holding periodical meetings with the security chiefs by the president,” CAN leadership that includes representatives of Catholic Bishops in Nigeria said in the August 23.

“Until the government shows the political will by arresting and bringing the culprits to book, the shedding of innocent blood will not cease,” the Christian leaders in Nigeria said, and added, “We charge the Federal Government to fix the security challenges or throw in the towel.”

Last month, CAN Chairman said the attack on a church in Nigeria’s Kaduna State that had taken place on November 1 was “another sad story of how deteriorating our insecurity has become.”

“Citizens are being killed like chickens with only press statements as consolation,” Pastor Joseph Hayab in a November 2 report.

In the same month, two Nigerian Catholic Bishops said they were “surprised” that the U.S. State Department had excluded Nigeria from the list of countries with severe religious freedom violations.


“There is nothing on the ground to suggest that Christians have an easier time practicing their faith in Nigeria today than they did one or two years ago,” Bishop Emmanuel Adetoyese Badejo told ACI Africa in the November 19 interview, adding that the persecution of Christians in Nigeria is on an upward trajectory.

On his part, Archbishop Ignatius Kaigama highlighted “abuse of religious freedom” in the West African nation, telling ACI Africa that for him, “the picture is one of severe discrimination or a subtle abuse of religious freedom in some establishments and sections of the country” and that there is general “dissatisfaction … with the status-quo”.

Meanwhile, in his Christmas 2021 Message shared with ACI Africa December 26, Bishop Matthew Hassan Kukah of Nigeria’s Sokoto Diocese said the government seems to have left the fate of Nigerians in the hands of “evil men.”

The silence of the Buhari-led government was only feeding the “ugly beast of complicity in the deeds of the evil people who have suspended the future of entire generations of Nigeria’s children,” Bishop Kukah said.

“Every day, we hear of failure of intelligence, yet, those experts who provide intelligence claim that they have always done their duty diligently and efficiently,” the Nigerian Catholic Bishop who was appointed a member of the Vatican Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development in January said.

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He went on to pose, “Does the President of Nigeria not owe us an explanation and answers as to when the abductions, kidnappings, brutality, senseless, and endless massacres of our citizens will end? When will our refugees from Cameroon, Chad or Niger return home?”

“We need urgent answers to these questions,” Bishop Kukah said in his Christmas 2021 Message.

ACI Africa was founded in 2019. We provide free, up-to-the-minute news affecting the Catholic Church in Africa, giving particular emphasis to the words of the Holy Father and happenings of the Holy See, to any person with access to the internet. ACI Africa is proud to offer free access to its news items to Catholic dioceses, parishes, and websites, in order to increase awareness of the activities of the universal Church and to foster a sense of Catholic thought and culture in the life of every Catholic.