Catholic Priest among 45 People Kidnapped from Parish of Minna Diocese, Nigeria

Fr. Leo Raphael Ozigi, kidnapped in Nigeria's Minna Diocese on 27 March 2022. Credit: Courtesy Photo

A Catholic Priest serving in Nigeria’s Minna Diocese is among 45 people who were reportedly abducted Sunday, March 27 morning, Nigeria Catholic Network (NCN) has reported.

The Monday, March 28 report indicates that “some terrorists abducted the Catholic Parish Priest of St Mary’s Catholic Church, Sarkin Pawa, the Headquarters of Munya Local Government Area of Niger State, Very Rev Father Leo Raphael Ozigi and whisked him away alongside other villagers.”

The Chancellor of Minna Diocese has confirmed the abduction of Fr. Ozigi.

In his March 28 letter shared with ACI Africa, Fr. Emeka Amanchukwu announces the March 27 abduction of the member of the Clergy of the Catholic Diocese of Minna, and adds, “The unfortunate incident occurred when the Priest was returning to his place of residence in Christ the King Parish, Gwada after the celebration of the Holy Mass in his parish, St Mary's Parish, Sarkin Pawa.”

“Kindly assist us to inform our Bishops and Priests about the ugly incident and our request for prayers and the celebration of the Holy Mass for the safe release of Rev. Fr. Raphael Leo by the abductors,” Fr. Amanchukwu further says in his letter addressed to the Catholic Secretariat of Nigeria (CSN).


The Chancellor of the Nigerian Diocese continues, “At the same time assist us with prayers for the safe release of our numerous brothers and sisters who have been held hostage by the rampaging bandits attacking communities and villages in Niger State.”

“We entrust Fr. Leo and other captives to the Maternal Intercessions and Protection of Mary Mother of Mercy,” Fr. Amanchukwu says, and further implores, “May the Holy Spirit secure the release of our brother, Fr Raphael Leo from the hands of the bandits. Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.”

In a March 28 report by Sahara reporters, a resident in the area identified as Shehu Abubakar has been quoted as saying, “The 44 other villagers who were kidnapped had just returned to their communities from Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camps on Saturday.”

“The bandits moved freely on the road from Sarkin Pawa to Gwada unchallenged,” Mr. Abubakar recounted.

He added, “We are worried because it seems our problem is yet to be over. People have just started returning on Saturday to prepare for the yam plantation.”

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“Government encouraged us to go back to our communities, that there was going to be security arrangements. People started returning on Saturday and these criminals invaded us again,” he lamented.

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.

The abduction of Fr. Ozigi is the latest of a series of 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 was killed; the other was later released.

In July last year, Fr. Elijah Juma Wada was abducted from Maiduguri Diocese; he later escaped from his abductors.

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

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

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Earlier this month, Fr. Joseph Akete who is serving in Nigeria's Kaduna Archdiocese was kidnapped by gunmen at his residence and his security guard killed.

Last week, gunmen abducted Fr. Felix Zakari Fidson in Nigeria’s Zaria Diocese.

Jude Atemanke is a Cameroonian journalist with a passion for Catholic Church communication. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from the University of Buea in Cameroon. Currently, Jude serves as a journalist for ACI Africa.