, 01 February, 2020 / 5:05 AM
Two more Nigerian seminarians who had been kidnapped January 8 from their house of formation in Kaduna State, Northwest of Nigeria, have been freed, bringing to three the number of released seminarians, multiple sources in Nigeria have told ACI Africa.
“With joy the Formators, Staff and Seminarians of Good Shepherd Major Seminary, Kaduna, Kaduna State, announce the safe release of 3 of our Seminarians by their captors,” reads in part the Friday, January 31 statement from the Registrar of the Kaduna-based Catholic Major Seminary, Fr. Joel Usman.
One of the four kidnapped seminarians “is still at large,” Fr. Usman has stated in a message sent to ACI Africa.
“Kindly continue to pray for the remaining one and all those who are still in the hands of Kidnappers,” the Nigerian clergy has appealed.
He expressed appreciation for the spiritual support since the abduction incident saying, “We thank you our brothers and sisters for your prayers in our travails.”
On the night of January 8, men in military uniform accessed Nigeria’s Good Shepherd Major Seminary where 268 seminarians were housed.
In a 30-minute operation from about 10.30, the gunmen took off with four seminarians studying philosophy: Pius Kanwai, 19; Peter Umenukor, 23; Stephen Amos, 23; and Michael Nnadi, 18. They also stole laptops and mobile phones.
The Seminary administration is yet to provide the identity of the three seminarians who have been so far freed, including the situation of the one released January 18 with serious injuries and had been admitted in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU). The abductors dumped him on the side of the Abuja-Kaduna-Zaria highway and rescued by passersby.
The President of the international Catholic pastoral charitable organization, Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), Thomas Heine-Beldern who termed 2019 “a year of martyrs, one of the bloodiest for Christians in history” said that “the security situation in Nigeria is appalling.”
Heine-Beldern has compared the situation in Nigeria to that of Iraq prior to the Islamic State's invasion saying, “Already at that stage, Christians were being abducted, robbed and murdered because there was no protection by the state. This must not be allowed to happen to the Christians of Nigeria. The government must act now, before it is too late.”
The pleas are yet to be heeded. On January 20, the Chairman of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) in Michika local government area of the State of Adamawa, Rev. Lawan Andimi, a Protestant Pastor in Nigeria’s Brethren Church of Christ, was murdered.
On January 26, the President of Nigeria Muhammadu Buhari ordered airstrikes against “bandits, kidnappers and cattle rustlers” who have been operating from the forested areas neighboring Kaduna, Niger and Zamfara states in Africa’s most populous country.
On Thursday, January 30, the Catholic Archbishop of Abuja, Ignatius Kaigama called on the Nigerian government to adopt the approach of taking “war to the criminals.”
“Our security agents must do more; our government must take the war to the criminals or those who say they are killing in the name of God,” Archbishop Kaigama said in his address at the Silver Jubilee celebration of Jos Ecclesiastical Province at St John's Cathedral, Bauchi in northern Nigeria.
Kidnappings of Christians in Nigeria have multiplied in recent months, a situation that has prompted Church leaders to express serious concern about the security of their members and to call on the government to prioritize the security of its citizens.
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