Catholic Archdiocese in Nigeria Announces “with heavy heart” Death of Kidnapped Priest

Late Fr. Joseph Akete Bako. Credit: Courtesy Photo

Nigeria’s Catholic Archdiocese of Kaduna has announced the passing on Fr. Joseph Akete Bako who was kidnapped from the Archdiocese in March.

In a Wednesday, May 11 statement shared with ACI Africa, the Chancellor of the Nigerian Archdiocese says that Fr. Bako who was kidnapped on March 8 could have died about a month after his kidnapping.

“It is with a heavy heart, but with total submission to the will of God that we announce the death of Rev. Fr. Joseph Aketeh Bako, which took place in the hands of his abductors between 18th and 20th of April 2022,” Fr. Christian Okewu Emmanuel says in the statement.

Fr. Okewu adds, in reference to the late Catholic Priest, “The fact of the circumstances leading to his death and the date of the incident have been carefully verified, hence this communication at this time.”

Aged 48, Fr. Bako was taken away by bandits following an attack on St. John’s Catholic Parish of Kaduna Archdiocese where he served as Parish Priest.


Conflicting reports had emerged describing the fate of Fr. Bako, with some sources saying that the Priest who was of ill health had been tortured to death in captivity.

Fr. Emmanuel Anyanwu, the Assistant Parish Priest of St. John’s Catholic Parish had spoken to Catholic Pontifical and charity foundation, Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) United Kingdom, saying that Fr. Bako “suffered greatly before his death.”

“He (Fr. Bako) was tortured because they were forcing him to pay a huge amount of ransom for his release. In this case, there was physical torture and beatings which caused him huge amounts of pain and agony,” Fr. Anyanwu said in the April 29 ACN United Kingdom report.

He added in reference to Fr. Bako, “Because of his fragile health challenges, he couldn’t survive the torture.”

In a May 4 interview with ACI Africa, however, the Deputy Director of Media Service Centre in the Archdiocese of Kaduna, said that he had not received any update on the situation of the missing Priest.

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“(There is) no official statement from the Archdiocese in that regard,” Fr. Anthony Shawuya said.

Fr. Shawuya added, in reference to the efforts of the Archdiocese of Kaduna to secure the release of Fr. Bako, “There were negotiations and efforts for his release but no news as to what has happened to him.”

In an interview with ACI Africa shortly after the kidnapping of Fr. Bako, a Catholic Priest who preferred to stay anonymous provided details of the kidnapping that had, at that point, not been confirmed by the Catholic Archdiocese of Kaduna.

“Fr. Joseph Akete was abducted with his younger brother who visited him. The kidnapping happened around 1:30 a.m. Sadly, his security guard was killed,” the Catholic Priest told ACI Africa during the March 8 interview.

Fr. Anyanwu told ACN United Kingdom that the body of Fr. Bako “has not been released yet by the bandits.”


In his May 11 statement, the Chancellor of Kaduna Archdiocese conveys “deepest sympathies” of Archbishop Matthew Man-oso Ndagoso to the family of Fr. Bako.

Fr. Okewu says, “Most Rev. Matthew Man-oso Ndagoso, the Catholic Archbishop of Kaduna has communicated his deepest sympathies to his immediate family and the entire Catholic Community of St. John Kudenda; and assured them of his fraternal closeness and prayers.”

Details of the late Fr. Bako’s funeral arrangement will be announced “as soon as they are ready”, the Nigerian Catholic Priest further says.

He adds, “Kindly continue to pray for his (Fr. Bako’s) peaceful repose, and for the consolation of the bereaved Christian Community in the Archdiocese of Kaduna.”

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Agnes Aineah is a Kenyan journalist with a background in digital and newspaper reporting. She holds a Master of Arts in Digital Journalism from the Aga Khan University, Graduate School of Media and Communications and a Bachelor's Degree in Linguistics, Media and Communications from Kenya's Moi University. Agnes currently serves as a journalist for ACI Africa.