Armed Muslims Kidnap Priest in Nigeria

By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent Worthy News

ABUJA, NIGERIA (Worthy News) – Christians were praying Monday for a Roman Catholic Church priest who they said had been kidnapped by armed Muslim “bandits” in Nigeria’s northwestern state of Kaduna.

Gabriel Ukeh was abducted early Sunday by men who broke into the rectory of St Thomas Church early Sunday, the Vatican and other sources confirmed.

The Vicar General of the local Diocese of Kafanchan, Emmanuel Kazah Faweh, condemned the kidnapping “of yet another priest in the area.”

“While we pray for the safe release of Father Ukeh,” he said, “we condemn the incessant kidnappings for ransom of innocent and defenseless citizens of our parishes.”

Kidnappings are rampant throughout Nigeria, with Muslim bandits and insurgents taking Christians and others captive for hefty ransoms or political and ideological reasons.

Thousands of kidnappings, often involving Christians, have occurred in Nigeria since May 2023, according to church estimates.

LEGITIMATE MEANS

Ukeh was sleeping at his home on the premises of St. Thomas Catholic Church in Zaman Dabo village, in Zango Kataf County, when he was abducted, villagers said.

“We will use every legitimate means to ensure that Father Ukeh comes back to us safe and sound,” Faweh said.

He reportedly urged the government to increase security as the Islamic feast of Eid al-Adha approaches June 15-19.

The church leader urged Nigerian Christians not to take revenge.

“While we are working with the security forces for the speedy release of Father Ukeh, we would like to urge everyone not to take justice into their own hands,” Faweh stressed.

The Kaduna State Command police force said they were “working towards the rescue of the priest.”

DEADLY PLACE

Nigeria remains one of the world’s deadliest and most dangerous places for devoted Christians, with 4,118 people killed for their faith in Christ from October 1, 2022, to September 30, 2023, according to Christian rights activists.

More than 3,300 Nigerian Christians were abducted during the sane research period—about 84 percent of the known global total, said advocacy group Open Doors.

Nigeria was also the third highest country in the number of attacks on churches and other Christian buildings, such as hospitals, schools, and cemeteries, with 750, according to Open Doors estimates.

Like last year, Nigeria ranks number 6 on the annual Open Doors World Watch List of 50 nations where it says it’s the most difficult to be a Christian.

Among those attacking Christians are Muslim Fulani herdsmen who are among the millions of Fulani living across Nigeria and the Sahel, Christians said.

Christian leaders in Nigeria say herders attack Christians in Nigeria to take over their lands and impose Islam forcefully.

Fulani have difficulties sustaining their herds due to desertification, Christian sources say.

Copyright 1999-2024 Worthy News. This article was originally published on Worthy News and was reproduced with permission.


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