An 18-year-old seminarian, kidnapped along with three other seminarians, was found murdered in Nigeria.
Bishop Matthew Hassan Kukah of Sokoto confirmed the death of Michael Nnadi, who was kidnapped with the others on 8 January during an attack at the Good Shepherd Seminary in Kakau, in Nigeria’s Kaduna state. He said Mr Nnadi and the wife of a doctor were arbitrarily separated from the group and killed. The bishop said the rector of the seminary identified Nnadi’s body.
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 the Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need on 31 January, 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”.
Archbishop Akubeze also denounced the 20 January beheading of Christian pastor Lawan Andima, chairman of the Christian Association of Nigeria, 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?”
Several other bishops also spoke out against the killings. Archbishop Alfred Adewale Martins of Lagos warned that the federal government’s inability to protect innocent Nigerians could send the nation into anarchy. He described Mr Nnadi as “a young man who abandoned all with the desire to serve his creator”.
Bishop Jude Ayodeji Arogundade of Ondo criticised the failure of the government to bring those behind the killings to justice.
“This is the time for us to speak out clearly. If the government can no longer defend Christians in this country, we will defend ourselves,” he said. “It is our right and it is our duty, especially when we can see clearly that the system is no longer defending law-abiding and hardworking Nigerians anymore.”
Thomas Heine-Geldern, executive president of Aid to the Church in Need, agreed. He 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 13 January.
“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.”