“We pray for the speedy release of our Seminarians”: Bishops in Nigeria

The four first-year philosophy seminarians who were abducted from the Good Shepherd Major Seminary in Nigeria's Kaduna State on the night of January 8, 2020
Credit: Good Shepherd Major Seminary, Kaduna, Nigeria

Days after the abduction of four Nigerian Major Seminarians by men “wearing military uniform”, the Catholic Bishops of the West African nation, the most populous in Africa, are counting on the security agencies in their country to make real their assurance of securing the release of the seminarians and called for prayers for the seminarians’ “speedy release”.

The Bishops were reacting to the Wednesday, January 8 incidence at the Good Shepherd Catholic Major Seminary in Nigeria’s Kaduna State when “bandits accessed the school dormitory where two hundred and sixty eight (268) students were being accommodated,” the police spokesman in Kaduna State, Yakubu Sabo has been quoted as saying.

Since then, various media have reported the action by the police in Kaduna to hunt down the kidnappers, with the Police Commissioner in the State, Umar Muri assuring members of the Good Shepherd Major Seminary, during his visit to the Catholic formation house, of his commitment to ensuring the seminarians’ release.

The abductors, according to various sources, were wearing military uniform, accessed the Seminary premises around 10.30 p.m. January 8, and operated for about 30 minutes.

“After head count of students with security agents, four seminarians have been declared missing. Kindly say a prayer for their release,” Fr. Joel Usman, the Registrar of the Good Shepherd Major Seminary has been quoted as saying.

The four missing seminarians were first year philosophy students, sources have told ACI Africa.

On Saturday, January 11, the abductors made contact with the family members of the seminarians “but never pronounced any amount of money as ransom,” a source in Nigeria told ACI Africa Sunday, January 12.

In a message posted on the Facebook page of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria (CBCN), the Prelates show the photos of the four seminarians who were kidnapped.

While the photos of the seminarians have been displayed on social media, other specific identities of the four seminarians “are not made known publicly for security reasons,” a source in the West African nation told ACI Africa and added in reference to the seminarians, “They are from different dioceses in the northern Nigeria.”

“It is unfortunately a continuation of the string of Boko Haram strategies,” another source remarked in an interview with ACI Africa and termed the abductions the “modus operandi” of Boko Haram.

“They are now called bandits, kidnappers, gunmen etc.,” the Nigerian source said and clarified that all the highlighted terms are used to refer to Boko Haram.

“Please pray for them and that God may arrest the perpetrators of this dastardly act,” the Bishops in Nigeria appealed in their January 10 Facebook post and added, “God will fight for (you) brothers and your captors will never go unpunished.”

Kidnappings of Catholic Church members in Nigeria, especially priests, have multiplied in the last several months, a situation that has prompted Church leaders to express serious concerns about the security of their members and called on the government at all levels to prioritize the security of its citizens.

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ACI Africa was officially inaugurated on August 17, 2019 as a continental Catholic news agency at the service of the Church in Africa. Headquartered in Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, this media apostolate will strive to facilitate the telling of Africa’s story by providing media coverage of Catholic events on the African continent, giving visibility to the activities of the Church across Africa where statistics show significant growth in numbers and the continent gradually becoming the axis of Catholicism. This is expected to contribute to an awareness of and appreciation for the significant role of the Church in Africa and over time, the realization of a realistic image of Africa that often receives negative media framing.

Father Don Bosco Onyalla
Editor-in-Chief, ACI Africa
[email protected]