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Catholic Priest Abducted in Nigeria’s Kaduna Archdiocese, Security Guard Killed

St. John’s Catholic Church located in Kudenda of Nigeria's Kaduna Archdiocese. Credit: St. John’s Catholic Church Kaduna

A Catholic Priest serving in Nigeria's Kaduna Archdiocese has been kidnapped by gunmen in the early hours of Tuesday, March 8 and his security guard killed.

In an interview with ACI Africa, a Catholic Priest in Nigeria who said he preferred anonymity confirmed the March 8 attack on St. John’s Catholic Church located in Kudenda area of Kaduna South local government area during which the Assistant Parish Priest managed to escape. 

“Fr. Joseph Akete was abducted with his younger brother who visited him. The kidnap happened around 1:30 a.m. (Tuesday morning). Sadly his security guard was killed,” the Catholic Priest told ACI Africa.

The Priest added, “The security guard, identified as Mr. Luka, was killed but the assistant (Parish Priest) was able to escape.”

“The Archdiocese of Kaduna is yet to give any official statement,” the Nigerian Catholic Priest told ACI Africa about the incident that has been reported Tuesday, March 8.

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In a statement shared with ACI Africa, security officials say, “Armed individuals associated with organized criminal groups (OCGs) invaded Kudendan community, in Kaduna State, around 1.00 a.m. on Tuesday, and kidnapped a Catholic Church priest, Reverend Fr. Joseph Akete.”

“The incident sent many residents into confusion, as they heard sounds of gunshots, thinking it was from the security operatives protecting the community,” the statement indicates.

A woman and her two children were kidnapped, together with the Catholic Priest, security officials further say.

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.

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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.

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

In April 2021, 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 last year, 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 last year, a Priest serving in Nigeria’s Maiduguri Diocese, Fr. Elijah Juma Wada, was abducted and later escaped after spending nine days with his abductors.

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Another Priest of Nigeria’s Kafanchan Diocese was kidnapped in September 2021 and later released by his abductors.

On January 6, Fr. Joseph Danjuma Shekari was kidnapped from his Parish residence in Nigeria’s Diocese of Kafanchan; he was released a day later.