Nigeria: At least 70 priests and religious people kidnapped or killed in last five years

About 20 clergymen including at least eight Catholic Priests/Seminarians were killed in the past five year and more than 50 abducted or kidnapped.

This is what a report by Nigerian NGO, International Society for Civil Liberties and Rule of Law (Intersociety) writes. The report says that available statistics have shown that between 11,500 and 12,000 Christian deaths were recorded since June 2015 when the present central Government of Nigeria came on board. Out of this figure, Jihadist Fulani Herdsmen accounted for 7,400 Christian deaths, Boko Haram 4000 and the ‘Highway Bandits’ 150-200.

The report also states that most of the victims of Boko Haram/ISWAP’s (Islamic State in West Africa) attacks in Nigeria’s Northeast are Christians. On the part of ‘Bandits/Highway Kidnappers’ in Northern Nigeria, most of their rural victims are Muslims while many, if not most of their outlet or roadside victims are Christians traveling to Northern or Southern parts of the Country using the Birnin-Gwari Federal Road.

Targeting and abducting Christian travellers on highways, particularly in Northern Nigeria where citizens are mainly of Igbo extraction, has also intensified. It’s taken on an additional dimension in recent months: the victims are separated at gunpoint according to their tribe and religion.

The latest victim of Catholic persecution in Nigeria is eighteen-year-old Michael Nnadi. He was kidnapped together with his three companions from the major Seminary of the Good Shepherd of Kakau, in the State of Kaduna, in northwest of Nigeria, by armed men in the night of January 8. While his three companions were subsequently released, the seminarian’s body was found on February 1.

“We protest against the brutal killings of innocent Nigerians by Boko Haram and groups of armed herdsmen who violently invade the lands of agricultural populations. We embarked on a peaceful protest on behalf of over 50 million Catholics and over 100 million Christians in Nigeria,” said Archbishop Augustine Akubueze, Archbishop of Benin City and President of the Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria (CBCN).

 “The killing of the children of God is evil, the inability to protect innocent people from incessant attacks is evil, not pursuing terrorists is an evil thing, our government’s response to the terrorist attack is, using an understatement, very below average,” said Archbishop Akubueze. He recalled “the massacres, the kidnappings of school-age children, travellers, the destruction of private homes, sacred places such as churches, mosques and seminars.”