By Fr. Benedict Mayaki, SJ
The General Secretary of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) is urging churches to be more security conscious, and also ensure the safety of their leaders.
Joseph Daramola made the call in a statement issued on Friday following the recent kidnap and release of protestant Bishop, Joseph Masin, the Chairman of the Christian Association’s Nasarawa State Chapter.
Bishop Joseph Masin was abducted on 27 May by unidentified gunmen who invaded his residence in Lafia, Nasarawa state at night.
Following his abduction, CAN issued a statement calling on the country’s government to ensure the safety and release of the bishop.
“Since we have no police of our own and we are trying as much as possible to avoid chaotic situations, we are placing a demand on the Federal Government and the Nasarawa State Government to ensure the safety and immediate release of Bishop Masin before it is too late.”
“It is disheartening, disappointing and reprehensible, how terrorists, herdsmen, kidnappers and bandits have been operating in the country, killing and maiming innocent citizens unabated.”
“We will not accept losing another state chairman like we lost the late CAN chairman, Rev. Lawan Andimi in Adamawa state, who was gruesomely murdered by terrorists while our security agencies appeared powerless, helpless and de-robed of their armor,” the statement said.
Bishop Masin was subsequently released around 11 pm on Saturday and was reunited with his family in the early hours of Sunday. At his release, CAN’s General Secretary thanked the government for its efforts in ensuring the safe return of its Nasarawa State Chapter Chairman.
Bishop Masin’s abduction is the latest in a series of religious kidnappings in Nigeria. Last January, four Catholic seminarians were taken from the Good Shepherd Major Seminary in Kakau, Kaduna State. One of them, Michael Nnadi was murdered, while the other three were released.
Likewise, in January, Rev. Lawan Andimi, chairman of CAN Michika Local Government Area, Adamawa State, was abducted by the Boko haram terror group. Days later, he appeared in a ransom video pleading for his release. He was later executed by his abductors.
Nigeria ranks 12th in the USA’s Open Doors World watch list of countries with Christian persecution. Statistics indicate that approximately 6,000 Christians have lost their lives due to religious violence since 2005.