Nigeria: Two Priests Killed in Separate Incidents

June 28, 2022

While concern is growing about the general situation in Nigeria, the country being perceived by some observers as “on the verge of collapse,” two tragic events have unfortunately come to support this analysis.

The warning message came from Catholic authorities. The General Secretary of the Catholic Secretariat of Abuja, Fr. Zaccaria Samjumi, the Director of Pastoral Affairs, Fr. Michael Banjo, and the Director of the Church and Society Section, Fr. Uchechukwu Obodoechina said in a statement that “the State of Nigerian seems to be on the verge of collapse.”

The statement recalled the widespread existence of “conflicts of varying magnitude and significance: sniper attacks in the southeast, the insurgency in the northeast with its trail of killings of innocent civilians.” The massacre at St. Francis Church in Owo, Ondo State, on the Day of Pentecost, “has given a new dimension to the massacre that is taking place in our country,” further emphasizes the text.

Added to the massacres are kidnappings for extortion, instability in the “Middle Belt,” “food shortages and rising inflation,” and university strikes that leave young people “without direction or purpose.” “Is it any wonder that there are so many instances of crime, violence, and unhealthy activities among young people?” ask the signatories.

A Tragic Confirmation

As if to dramatically illustrate this, two priests were killed in two days in Nigeria, one in Kaduna State and the other in Edo State.

Fr. Vitus Borogo, a priest serving in the Archdiocese of Kaduna – in the center of the country – was killed on June 25 “at Prison Farm, Kujama, along the Kaduna-Kachia road, after a raid on the farm by terrorists,” the Chancellor of the Archdiocese of Kaduna said in a statement shared with ACI Africa.

The 50-year-old priest was the Catholic chaplain at Kaduna State Polytechnic.

In the southeastern state of Edo, Fr. Christopher Odia was abducted from his parsonage adjoining St. Michael's Church, Ikabigbo, Uzairue, at around 6:30 a.m. on June 26. The diocese of Auchi has announced that he was killed by his captors.

Fr. Odia was 41 years old, he was an administrator of St. Michael's Church and principal of St. Philip's Catholic Secondary School in Jattu.

The Sun, a Nigerian daily, reported that a local altar boy and security guard who was following the kidnappers were shot dead during Fr. Odia’s abduction.

More Christians are killed for their faith in Nigeria than in any other country in the world

There were at least 4,650 Catholic victims in 2021, and nearly 900 in the first quarter of 2022 alone.

According to the British human rights foundation Christian Solidarity Worldwide, the state of Kaduna has become “the epicenter of kidnappings and violence perpetrated by non-state actors, despite being the state with the greatest number of garrisons in Nigeria.”