Vatican, Sokoto Diocese mourn
By Sam Eyoboka
ONE of the four abducted Kaduna seminarians, Nnadi Michael, who was found dead was buried on Tuesday in the premises of the Good Shepherd Major Seminary in Karu, Kaduna.
The four students were abducted from their hostel by gunmen dressed in military uniforms on January 9, 2020, according to a statement last Saturday night by Registrar, Good Shepherd Major Seminary Kaduna, Rev. Fr. Dr. Joel Usman.
The chairman of Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, in Kaduna, Pastor John Joseph Hayab confirmed the latest development, saying that Catholic Church decided to commit the young seminarian who was just beginning his philosophy class to Mother Earth.
According to him, there was a service of songs on Monday in the same premises while his funeral was conducted on Tuesday in the premises.
He also took time to time renew his call on security personnel in the country to ensure the safety of Nigerian citizens, even as he commended renewed efforts by the Police to Free Kaduna State from Criminals; urging them to keep the momentum until the state and country are free from criminals.
“Kaduna State citizens have suffered untold hardship in the hands of bandits and evil men in recent years. As a result of an increase in banditry, many have been chased away from their homes and villages. The sad story is that bandits have kidnapped, killed and collected huge ransoms from victims for years.
“When such evil was going on, we cried to the government and security agencies to carry out their constitutional duties but it seemed the cries fell on deaf ears. However, the news that security men went after bandits in Birnin Gwari forest and killed many of them yesterday brings back hope and the expectations that good and peaceful days may be returning to our dear state and country.
“CAN Kaduna State, therefore, commends the Inspector General of Police and all the team for doing what law-abiding have expected them to do. Even though this effort may be coming late but it is better late than never. Therefore, we celebrate this feat and encourage the Police to keep the momentum until every criminal and all their hideouts are cleared for citizens to have a new lease of life.
“CAN appeals to all citizens to continue to pray for our security men and women and also to render any form of support needed to win the war against the enemies of the state.
“We pray for a quick recovery for those who sustained injuries in the course of the operation. Their sacrifices are appreciated and duly acknowledged,” Pastor Hayab stated.
Vatican mourns Michael Nnadi
An 18-year-old seminarian, kidnapped along with three other seminarians, was found murdered in Nigeria, according to Aid to the Church in Need.
The Catholic charity confirmed the death of Michael Nnadi, who was kidnapped with the others January 8, 2020 during an attack at the Good Shepherd Seminary in Kakau, in Nigeria’s Kaduna state.
“With immense sorrow, we must inform you that the last seminarian held by kidnappers, Michael, was murdered. The rector of the seminary of Kaduna identified the body in the afternoon,” Aid to the Church in Need tweeted February 1.
The seminarian, Michael, had been kidnapped along with three other seminarians from the Good Shepherd Major Seminary in Kakau, Kaduna State. Aid to the Church in Need reported that the director of the seminary carried out the recognition of the body.
The three other seminarians — Pius Kanwai, Peter Umenukor and Stephen Amos — were released in late January.
Nnadi’s death is the latest in a string of attacks against Christians in Nigeria, who have been targeted by terrorist groups like Boko Haram, but also by bandits seeking to extort money from the Catholic Church.
In an interview with Aid to the Church in Need January 31, Archbishop Augustine Akubeze of Benin City, president of the Nigerian bishops’ conference, said 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.” Unfortunately, ACN points out that, the resources of the Church are limited and some parishes are even forced to pay for police protection during Sunday masses.
Archbishop Augustine Akubeze, of Benin and President of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria, CBCN, on Friday had made an appeal to ACS regarding the strong insecurity “throughout the country”, in a situation of unprecedented gravity.
Archbishop Akubeze explained that though all the 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 caused, according to recent UN data, more than 35,000 victims.
Archbishop Akubeze also denounced the January 20 beheading of Christian Pastor Lawan Andini, chairman of the Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, by Boko Haram militants. He also questioned why Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari expressed shock at the attacks.
“Many Nigerians are asking themselves if the president lives in a parallel universe,” the Nigerian archbishop said. “How can he be surprised after we have participated in numerous mass burials of Christians killed by Boko Haram?”
Thomas Heine-Geldern, executive president of Aid to the Church in Need, said the kidnapping of the seminarians, as well as targeted attacks and murders of Christians in Nigeria were a sign that the government needs to do more to ensure the safety of its citizens.
“The murders and abductions remind me of the situation in Iraq before the invasion of the forces of the so-called Islamic State,” Heine-Geldern said January 13. “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.”
In a similar development, the Sokoto Catholic Diocese in its release by Bishop Matthew Hassan Kukah and made available to Saturday Vanguard by its Director of Social Communications, Rev. Father Chris Omotosho, said: “One of four Nigerian seminarians kidnapped last month has been killed, reportedly by his abductors. The three seminarians kidnapped along with him were released in the weeks following their kidnapping.
“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 February 1.
Michael Nnadi was 18 years old.
Information about the woman killed with Nnadi is not yet available.
Nnadi himself was taken by gunmen from Good Shepherd Seminary in Kaduna, around 10.30 p.m. on January 8.
With him were Pius Kanwai, 19; Peter Umenukor, 23; and Stephen Amos, 23. The four seminarians were at the beginning of their philosophy studies.
The gunmen, disguised in military camouflage, broke through the fence surrounding the seminarians’ living quarters and began shooting sporadically. They stole laptops and phones before kidnapping the four young men.
On January 20, ACI Africa, CNA’s African news partner, reported that one of the abducted seminarians had been freed by his kidnappers after 10 days in captivity. That seminarian was dumped alongside the highway with extensive injuries, which are believed to have been sustained during the kidnapping. He is now receiving treatment.
On Friday, January 31, an official at Good Shepherd Seminary announced that two more of the kidnapped seminarians had been released. At that time, it was reported that one seminarian was still at large, and was presumed to remain in captivity. That seminarian was Nnadi.
In his February 1 statement, Bishop Kukah said that he had to delay the announcement of Nnadi’s death slightly until his mother could be informed.
“We have broken the news to her and I will be with her,” Kukah said February 1.
“The Lord knows best. Let’s remain strong and pray for the repose of his soul,” Kukah added.
Nearly 270 seminarians live at Good Shepherd.
The seminary is located just off the Abuja-Kaduna-Zaria Expressway. According to AFP, the area is “notorious for criminal gangs kidnapping travelers for ransom.”
Schoolgirls and staff from a boarding school located near the same highway were kidnapped in October, and were later released.
In the last year, several priests and seminarians, along with pastors from other Christian denominations, have been kidnapped in Nigeria, some for ranson, and some by Islamist militant and terrorist groups.
Church leaders have called on the government to prioritize the security of its citizens.
“The security situation in Nigeria is appalling”, Thomas Heine-Geldern, executive president of ACN International, said Janiary 13. “Criminal gangs are further exploiting the chaotic situation and making matters still worse.”
He compared the situation in Nigeria to that of Iraq prior to the Islamic State’s invasion: “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.”
For his part, Bishop Kukah urged prayer.
“Please let us be calm. May God give him eternal rest,” he wrote February 1.