By Benedict Mayaki, SJ
Bandits have reportedly attacked a major seminary in the Catholic diocese of Kafanchan, Kaduna, and have kidnapped three seminarians.
Announcing the incident in a statement released on Tuesday, the diocese said that the attack on Christ the King Major Seminary located in Fayit, Fadan Kagoma in Jema’a Local Government Area, took place on Monday evening.
According to the statement, the diocesan Major seminary is domiciled within the St. Albert Institute where the seminarians receive academic formation. The Seminary houses the seminarians preparing for the Catholic priesthood and their formators.
Attack in the chapel
The statement notes that the attack took place on 11 October around 7:26pm in the chapel of the Seminary.
As at the time of the attack, 10 formators, including the Rectors of the Seminary and the Institute, 132 seminarians, 6 non-seminarians, 1 female non-academic staff member and one steward were on ground.
Six seminarians sustained various degrees of injuries during the attack and they were accompanied by a dispatch of soldiers to a hospital in Kafanchan where they were treated and discharged after being confirmed to be stable.
According to the seminary security agents and law enforcement personnel, a headcount conducted after Mass on Tuesday showed that three seminarians had been abducted. The kidnapped seminarians belong to the Apostles of Divine Charity and the Little Sons of the Eucharist congregations and are all in their fourth year of theology studies.
Local news sources report that a police official said that a combined team of police tactical and anti-kidnapping squads have launched a manhunt for the bandits, with the aim of bringing them to book and rescuing the kidnapped victims.
Appeal for prayers
“We ask for your closeness to us in praying for the quick and safe release of our abducted brothers,” read the statement signed by Fr. Emmanuel Uche Okolo, the Chancellor of the diocese.
The diocese also called on well-wishers of the Institute and the Seminary to “desist from taking the laws into their hands” adding that “we would use every legitimate means to ensure their prompt and secure release.”
“May Our Lady of the Holy Rosary and St. Wilfred intercede for our abducted brothers and all other kidnapped persons,” the statement said.
Insecurity in northern Nigeria
Nigeria has been facing an ongoing challenge against insecurity. In the north of the country, Kaduna is one of the states most affected by banditry, with thousands of people killed or kidnapped by armed men despite the efforts of security agencies.
This latest attack comes in spite of recent more-stringent measures put in place by the governors of some states in the north of Nigeria. In Kaduna, a ban has been placed on movement by motorcycles which are the favored means of transportation of the bandits, and telecommunication services have been disrupted in efforts to hinder the activities of the bandits.