Seminarian in Nigeria Burnt Alive in Botched Kidnapping at Catholic Parish

Seminarian Na'aman Danlami died when the Fulanis attacked St. Raphael Fadan Kamantan Parish on the night of Thursday, September 7. Credit: ACN

Nigeria's Catholic Diocese of Kafanchan has confirmed the killing of a Seminarian in the Diocese after a Parish rectory he was in was set on fire reportedly by Fulani bandits in what has been confirmed as a kidnapping attempt.

According to Bishop Julius Yakubu Kundi of Kafanchan, Seminarian Na'aman Danlami died when the Fulanis attacked St. Raphael Fadan Kamantan Parish on the night of Thursday, September 7 and set the rectory ablaze.

In an interview with the Catholic Pontifical and charity foundation, Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) International, Bishop Kundi said that the Parish Priest, Fr. Emmanuel Okolo, and his Assistant, were able to escape the fire incident in which the 25-year-old Seminarian died.

“The attackers were aiming to kidnap the parish priest. When they failed in their attempt to enter the father's house, they set it on fire. The two priests were able to escape but, terribly, the seminarian was burned inside,” ACN has quoted the Nigerian Catholic Bishop as saying in a report shared with ACI Africa on Friday, September 8. 

A screengrab from a video shared with ACI Africa that shows the parish house at St. Raphael Fadan Kamantan Catholic Church of the Diocese of Kafanchan in flames.


Bishop Kundi added, “The assault lasted more than an hour, but there was no reaction or support from the military forces. A kilometer away there is a checkpoint, but there was a total absence of reaction.”

“Nigerian citizens are unprotected. We hardly benefit from the security forces,” the Local Ordinary of Kafanchan Diocese said.

Earlier, Seminarian Na'aman had been said to be missing. A priest who took a video that showed the arson said that they could not establish the whereabouts of the Seminarian.

“Fr. Okolo and I are out of the house. It is brother Na’aman whose whereabouts we don't know. Whether he’s there in the flames or they have taken him, or he has escaped we don't know,” the Priest said, adding that the Parish had fallen under attack at around 8 p.m.

Bishop Kundi has described Seminarian Na’aman’s death as “a terrible loss”, adding that his killing is not the first in his Episcopal See that serves Kaduna State.

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“This seminarian is the second member we have lost in the diocese at the hands of terrorist attacks by Fulani bandits,” the 55-year-old Catholic Bishop who has been at the helm of Kafanchan Diocese since his Episcopal Ordination in February 2020 says.

He adds that last year, Fr. John Mark Cheitnum, Director of Communications of the Diocese of Kafanchan, was kidnapped and brutally murdered.

“We recovered the body of Na'aman Danlami this morning and took it to the morgue,” Bishop Kundi told ACN. 

ACN has condemned the murder of Seminarian Na’aman and the kidnapping of another Seminarian in Kaduna. 

In the note shared with ACI Africa, the Pontifical foundation that reaches out to the people of God in countries experiencing religious persecution says that it had learnt of the kidnapping of Seminarian Ezequiel Nuhu, taken on September 7 in Kaduna.


Seminarian Ezequiel Nuhu, taken on September 7 in Kaduna. Credit: ACN

Nuhu, ACN reports, was taken along with his father. “Nuhu is a seminarian in Abuja, but had gone to Southern Kaduna to spend a holiday with his family,” the charity foundation reports. 

“ACN International denounces the latest attack on the Catholic Church in Nigeria, in which a seminarian was burned to death in the diocese of Kafanchan, as well as the kidnapping of another seminarian in southern Kaduna,” ACN says.

The Catholic charity appeals “for prayers for the repose of Na'aman Danlami and for consolation for his family and his community. It also prays for the safety and quick release of Ezekiel Nuhu.”

ACN further reports that Nigeria has been a particularly dangerous country for Catholic Clergy in recent years. 

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In 2022 four Catholic Priests were killed in the West African country and 28 were kidnapped, the charity foundation reports, adding that in 2023, the number of members of the Clergy victims of kidnapping has already reached 14.

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.