Priests and faithful in Nigeria are increasingly being subjected to assaults that range from intimidation to murder to kidnapping for ransom. FSSPX.News reported on the massacre committed in a church on the day of Pentecost, June 6, 2022, as well as the murder of two priests on June 25 and 26.
Kidnapping for ransom is one of the dominant crimes in various Nigerian cities today: politicians, businessmen, clerics, and anyone with money, including schoolchildren from relatively well-to-do families, are easy targets for bandits. But kidnapping can go wrong.
Less than two weeks ago, in Edo State, Fr. Christopher Odia Ogedegbe, was killed in an attempted kidnapping on Sunday June 26 while on his way to Mass in Auchi.
Another priest, Fr. Vitus Borogo, was killed on June 25 at his farm in Kaduna, in northwestern Nigeria. At his funeral, 700 priests demonstrated peacefully demanding greater security for themselves and all Nigerian citizens.
On Saturday July 2, two priests were abducted: Fr. Peter Udo, from the parish of St Patrick, in Uromi, and Fr. Philemon Oboh, from the retreat center of St Joseph, in Ugboha, in the area of Esan local government zone in Edo State, southern Nigeria. They were taken to an unknown location by their captors.
Police said they sent officers to the area “to conduct an aggressive and well-coordinated manhunt” to track down the kidnappers and free the two priests.
On Sunday, July 3, in Edo State, Italian Fr. Luigi Brenna was kidnapped by armed people. Suspected shepherds fired shots. The 64-year-old priest was then captured and abused. The attackers wounded him with a machete, the statement said. The beating knocked him unconscious and his captors left him behind, thinking him dead.
Finally, Fr. Emmanuel Silas, abducted on July 4 from the rectory of St. Charles Catholic Church in Zambina, Kaur Local Government Area, has finally been released. A statement released by the Diocese of Kafanchan said the priest was released around 9 p.m. the same day.
The government and the police seem incapable of stemming this wave of crimes which is overwhelming the country, especially as they also have to deal with food shortages, rising inflation, strikes in universities which leave young people abandoned. So many difficulties that will be at the heart of the next elections to be held in 2023.