In Nigeria, a kidnapped seminarian is found murdered
MICHAEL NNADI, an 18-year-old Nigerian seminarian was found murdered Feb. 1. On Jan. 8, he had been abducted by unidentified assailants, along with three other seminarians, from the Good Shepherd Seminary in Kaduna, in northern Nigeria. Michael’s three fellow students were all eventually able to regain their freedom.
“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. He and the wife of a doctor were arbitrarily separated from the group and killed. The Rector identified the corpse this afternoon,” Bishop Matthew Hassan Kukah of Sokoto, Nigeria, said in a statement released Feb. 1. According to local media, another murder victim found was the wife of a doctor living in Kaduna. She had apparently also been abducted by armed men, on Jan. 24, along with her two children.
“I am appalled at the unleashing of such terrible evil,” said Thomas Heine Geldern, the executive president of Aid to the Church in Need (ACN); “the news of the brutal murder of this innocent young man saddens me deeply.”
According to Heine Geldern, local Catholic communities are demonstrating an admirable degree of faith and trust in God, as evidenced by the final words of Bishop Kukah‘s message: “The Lord knows best. Let us remain strong and pray for the repose of his soul.” Heine Geldern said the task of ACN must be to support and sustain the Nigerian Church on its Way of the Cross, by means of prayer and practical help.
“But at the same time, the world needs to wake up. The Nigerian government is facing an enormous challenge. The insecurity is as bad as in times of civil war. Nigeria is a multi-faith and multi-ethnic nation, and security must be provided for all,” Heine Geldern insisted.
One of the teaching staff at the seminary in Kaduna, who asked not to be named, told ACN: “Michael was a young and gifted seminarian. He was an orphan who had been brought up by his grandmother. Just a few weeks ago, after a year of spiritual preparation, he had been clothed in the soutane. It seems that his only crime was his desire to serve God. The security forces and the government have failed him.”
Two of the three seminarians abducted along with Michael were released Jan. 31. Two weeks ago, another of the seminarians was found badly wounded, lying by the side of a highway.
Kidnappings of this kind are a regular occurrence in Kaduna State. According to the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), an independent US organization, 114 people were abducted in Kaduna State in January 2020 alone—the highest figure among Nigerian states. The motive for the kidnapping of the four seminarians remains to be revealed.
Archbishop Augustine Akubeze of Benin City, president of the Nigerian bishops’ conference, told ACN that attacks against Christians are “due to lack of security in the entire country.” The Church, he added, lacks resources, such as video cameras in churches and seminaries, which “would be useful at least to capture some terrorists.”