Dozens of Catholic Seminarians Abducted from Major Seminary in Cameroon Regain Freedom

32 Catholic Major Seminarians who were abducted last Friday, April 8 alongside their driver in Cameroon's Mamfe Diocese have been released. Credit: Mamfe Diocese

The 32 Catholic Major Seminarians who were abducted last Friday, April 8 alongside their driver have been released, the Communications Director of the Cameroonian Diocese has said.

In a Monday, April 11 interview with ACI Africa, Fr. Christopher Eboka confirmed the release of the 33 members of St. John Paul II Major Seminary in Cameroon’s Mamfe Diocese who he said are safe and unharmed after 24 hours of captivity.

“I can confirm that the Saint John Paul II Major Seminarians kidnapped by Amba boys at Bachuo-Ntai Mamfe have been released unharmed,” Fr. Eboka said about the 32 Seminarians pursuing their studies in Theology in Cameroon’s Mamfe Diocese.

He added, “We give God the praise. We thank the people of God for their support and prayers.”

The member of the Clergy of Cameroon’s Mamfe Diocese said the Seminarians and their driver had been taken away during the early hours of April 8 as they were going for Holy Mass at the Seminary’s chapel in “the old campus”.


“Saint John Paul II Major Seminary has two campuses. The old campus that has a chapel and the new one under construction where the Seminarians live,” the Priest who serves as the Administrator of St. Joseph's Cathedral of Mamfe Diocese told ACI Africa April 11.

Fr. Eboka continued, “On that fateful morning, the driver transported the first group of Seminarians for Holy Mass at the old campus of the seminary. When he returned to get the rest of the group, they were attacked by the separatist fighters and taken to an unknown destination.”

“Out of the 33 kidnapped that morning, two Seminarians were released while the rest remained in captivity,” he recounted, and added, “The rest of the 31 were only freed on Saturday, April 9 following negotiations by local chiefs in the area.”

Separatists have been operating in the English-speaking regions of Southwest and Northwest Cameroon since 2016 when the Anglophone region plunged into crisis after a protest by lawyers and teachers turned violent.

The armed separatists who claim independence for the so-called republic of Ambazonia have been responsible for abductions and attacks in the Anglophone regions.

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Last year, the Vicar General of Mamfe Diocese was abducted by separatist fighters and later released after three days of captivity. 

In the April 11 interview with ACI Africa, Fr. Eboka who had been abducted on 22 May 2021  and freed 31 May 2021 said the separatists requested for a 25 million FCFA (US$41,356.00) ransom from the Church, which he said was never paid.

“The Church has always partnered with local chiefs who the amba boys respect to negotiate the release of those kidnapped. In this case, they negotiated with the separatists for the release of the Seminarians and their driver,” he said. 

Asked about the challenges posed by the Anglophone crisis in Mamfe Diocese, Fr. Eboka said, “From the look of things, it is like nothing is happening; places are calm but that is not the case.” 

“This is because the boys are in their hideouts, which are in the hinterlands and we who are working in those areas our lives are on the edge,” he said. 


“As missionaries, we must go to those places. And going to those places we must encounter those boys. It is very clear that the pockets of them who are in existence are in search of money and so they will do everything possible to get what they can,” Fr. Eboka told ACI Africa.

He added, “Being in Mamfe in the South West region, which is in the heart of the crisis, we have made up our minds as Church that whether we like it or not we will continue to suffer as victims of the situation.”

“We will not fold our arms and close down the churches because of the situation on the ground,” the Cameroonian Priest told ACI Africa April 11, and added, “We will continue running our churches despite the daily challenges we face from the amba boys.”

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.