Nigeria: Kidnappings of Priests Continue

Source: FSSPX News

Fr. Mikah Suleiman, abducted on June 22, 2024

Since the beginning of the year, Nigeria has once again been the scene of repeated kidnappings of priests. However, the clergy are not the only victims of these kidnappings, which affect the whole population, and especially children. More than 3,900 kidnappings have been recorded since May 2023.

Malik Samuel, a Nigerian researcher, explains: “It is a matter of discouraging potential kidnappers from acting for money. But ransoms continue to be paid and this measure has done nothing to contain the phenomenon,” the newspaper concludes. And in fact, the number of mass kidnappings is higher in the first part of 2024 than for the whole year of 2019.

Abductions of Priests

The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria had indicated “in April 2023 that, in 17 years, from 2006 to 2023, 53 priests were kidnapped, 15 killed and 12 attacked in Nigeria,” Aleteia reports. Priests are easily targeted, because the ‘bandits’ know that, most of the time, or even always, the ransom will be paid. This is what the site InfoCatolica affirms.

An article published on the site L’observatoire de la Christianophobie in November reported the remarks of Bishop Matthew Kukah, Bishop of Sokoto, who admitted “having paid ransoms to free clerics, against the official position of the Nigerian bishops, who refuse to pay ransoms in the case of kidnappings of priests or religious.”

It is understandable that even if ransoms are paid, the thickest silence surrounds the transactions, on one hand because the law forbids it, and on the other hand, so as not to publicize it nor endanger the clergy, who potentially become prey to capture.

In 2024, already eight priests were kidnapped as of June 22, the date of the latest kidnapping. Six were quickly freed, in all likelihood after the payment of a ransom. But Fr. Christian Ike, kidnapped in Anambra State on June 16, is still being detained by his abductors, as is Fr. Mikah Suleiman, kidnapped on June 22, Agenzia Fides reports.

Finally, it should be noted that some abductions of priests are the doing of jihadists—whether they are also ‘bandits’ or not—who do not always release the members of the clergy, but end up killing them.

This is an opportunity for a reminder that Nigeria is the most practicing country in the world—94% of faithful go to Mass every Sunday—and that it is without doubt also the country where Catholics are the most persecuted: each year there are hundreds, or even thousands killed among those who profess the Catholic Faith.