By Ann Marie Foley - 06 February, 2020
An 18-year-old Nigerian seminarian, Michael Nnadi, who was abducted on 8 January, has been killed.
“With a very heavy heart, I wish to inform you that our dear son, Michael, was murdered by the bandits on a date we cannot confirm,” said Bishop Matthew Hassan Kukah of Sokoto.
Michael Nnadi was one of four seminarians who were abducted on the evening of 8 January from the Good Shepherd Major Seminary in Kaduna city (see CatholicIreland.net 17 January 2020). The other seminarians who were released were Pius Kanwai, aged 19; Peter Umenukor, aged 23; and Stephen Amos, also 23. They were freed on 20 and 31 January. However, the kidnappers killed Michael Nnadi and left his body on the roadside.
They had also kidnapped the wife of medical doctor Philip Ataga from the family home in Juji, Kaduna, along with her two children on Friday 24 January. The kidnappers’ ransom demand for her release was not met and she too was killed and left by the side of the road.
“He [Michael] and the wife of a doctor were arbitrarily separated from the group and killed,” stated Bishop Kukah.
In his statement he added that the seminary rector had formally identified Mr Nnadi’s body and his mother had been informed. Bishop Kukah said: “We have broken the news to her and I will be with her. The Lord knows best. Let’s remain strong and pray for the repose of his soul.”
The other three seminarians are now receiving medical care. Archbishop Augustine Akubeze of Benin, who is President of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria, made an appeal regarding the very poor security throughout the country in what he called “a situation of unprecedented gravity”.
Archbishop Aukbeze explained that although all seminaries in Nigeria have protective walls, “they are not sufficient to stop the attacks of Boko Haram”, the Islamic extremists whose violence since 2009 has affected more than 35,000 victims, according to recent UN data.
Not all church structures have security cameras, he said, and added that they would be useful to capture some terrorists. Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), which reported on the deaths and has a presence in Nigeria, stated that the resources of the Church are limited and some parishes are even forced to pay for police protection during Sunday masses.
The Catholic News Agency (CNA) has reported that the Archbishop of Lagos urged government officials to make changes to security measures. Archbishop Alfred Martins stated that this is just one of several cases of innocent Nigerians being killed on a daily basis by gunmen.
“The Federal government must act now before things get out of hand,” he said.
Nearly 270 seminarians live at Good Shepherd Seminary, located just off the Abuja-Kaduna-Zaria Express Way, which had been described as an area notorious for criminal gangs kidnapping for ransom.
Schoolgirls and staff from a boarding school located near the same highway were kidnapped in October and were later released.
CNA reported that kidnappings of Christians in Nigeria have multiplied in recent months.