Fortunate Nyambo – Vatican City
Pius Kanwai, 19; Peter Umenukor, 23; Stephen Amos, 23; and Michael Nnadi, 18, were taken from Good Shepherd Seminary in Kaduna, Nigeria around 10:30 pm on 8 January by gunmen.
One of the seminarians was freed after ten days but with serious injuries sustained at the hands of his captors. On 2 February, a day after the release of two other seminarians came the shocking news that the fourth seminarian, Michael Nnandi, had been murdered by his captors. Michael was the youngest of the four.
If my brothers can sacrifice for the Gospel, I too should be ready
This week, two seminarians of Rome’s Pontifical Urban College, Peter Ameh of Nigeria and Lenin Mudzingwa of Zimbabwe spoke to Vatican News about their reactions to the abductions.
“The abduction and the killing of a seminarian say to me that we live in a very precarious situation, where we don’t know what will happen next. Human lives are no longer respected and can be taken at will. It is a very terrifying situation, and it tells me that yes, I can be a seminarian, but that does not mean I shouldn’t be ready to give my life even at this stage for the sake of the Gospel. While this is terrifying, it also consoles me because it tells me that if my brothers can be sacrificed, if my brothers can suffer for the sake of the Gospel, then it should make me open to every possibility in this life.” Said Peter Ameh, a second-year seminarian of Jalingo Diocese in Nigeria.
When one of us is hurt, we all feel it
Zimbabwean first-year Theology student of Gweru Diocese, Lenin Mudzingwa said, “When one seminarian is hurt, every seminarian is hurt.” According to Lenin, the abductions and killing are not just a problem for Nigerian seminarians of the Nigerian Church alone. He said the tragic events touched everyone in the Church and even those outside the Church.
I would be terrified
In their shoes, “I was going to be very afraid. I was going to be terrified. To live under such a threatening situation and environment just takes away your hope. It discourages. But I pray and believe that on the other hand, it gives you more courage that I too can do it since others have done it. (Give up their life for the Gospel),” said Lenin.
When the tragic news filtered through to their institution, in Rome, the students said they prayed fervently for the four victims, their Nigerian colleagues and concerned families.
The state can do more to protect seminaries
For Peter, Nigerian politicians in their election campaigns, promised more and better security. He believes it is time for them to deliver on the promises.
“A lot can be done to protect seminarians in Kaduna, in particular this seminary, which is situated on a notorious highway (Abuja-Kaduna Express Way) reputed for criminal activities. A lot can be done to protect all the seminaries in the world, especially the ones in Nigeria. Yes, seminarians are training to be priests of the Church, but that does not take away the fact that they are also citizens. The state has to protect every life not considering religious affiliation,” said Peter.
Undeterred in their zeal to serve God
Both students say that notwithstanding the abductions, they are undeterred in their wish to serve God and the Church.
“More people are ready to serve God. More people are going to the seminary to become priests and are ready to preach the Gospel according to the injunction of Christ,” affirmed Peter.
There are about 270 seminarians at the Good Shepherd Major Seminary of Kaduna.
Medical doctor’s wife killed along with Michael Nnadi
Security for priests, sisters, seminarians and pastors of other Christian denominations is a significant concern for Christians in Nigeria. Nonetheless, though kidnappings and abductions of religious personnel make much news, ordinary laypersons are as affected and suffer as much.
Together with the seminarian, Michael Nnadi, the kidnapping gang of Kaduna also killed the wife of a Kaduna-based medical doctor, Philip Ataga. The captors eventually released her two children kidnapped with her.