Nigeria: Gunmen abduct two priests, others in Katsina
By Vatican News staff writer
Two priests serving in the Catholic Diocese of Sokoto, northern Nigeria, have been abducted after unidentified gunmen attacked their residence on Wednesday.
According to media reports, the kidnappers stormed St. Patrick Catholic Church in Katsina state in the early hours of 25 May, seizing Fr. Stephen Ojapa; another priest, Fr. Oliver Okpara, and two unidentified boys.
Prayers for the victims
Fr. Chris Omotosho, the director of social communications for the Sokoto diocese, who confirmed the incident in a statement, urged the faithful to pray for their safe return.
“As at midnight of today, 25th May, 2022, gunmen broke into the rectory of St. Patrick’s Catholic Church, Gidan Maikambo, Kafur Local Government Area of Katsina State,” the statement read.
“The parish priest and his assistant Rev. Frs. Stephen Ojapa, MSP, and Oliver Okpara and 2 other boys in the house were kidnapped.”
The statement noted that there is no information as to the whereabouts of the four people seized during the raid.
“Kindly pray for their safety and release,” Fr. Omotosho said.
Insecurity, kidnappings in northern Nigeria
This latest abduction is the latest in a series of kidnappings and attacks that target church institutions, priests and religious men and women.
Earlier this month, the Archdiocese of Kaduna announced the death of Fr. Joseph Aketeh Bako who died in captivity after being abducted in March by gunmen from his residence in St. John Catholic Church, Kudenda, where he had been serving as parish priest.
Nigeria, especially the northern region, has been facing security challenges in the past years, fueled by the activities of the Boko Haram Islamic extremist group, as well as clashes between nomadic herdsmen and the local indigenous farmers.
More recently, unidentified gunmen, commonly referred to as bandits, have been of concern for Nigerian authorities and security operatives. The bandits have been responsible of several kidnappings, killings and for raids on rural villages.