Another Catholic Priest Kidnapped in Nigeria

Fr. Joseph Shekari, Parish Priest in Ikulu Fari

Another Catholic Priest Kidnapped in Nigeria
© Fides

Another Catholic priest has been kidnapped in Nigeria: Fr. Joseph Shekari, parish priest in Ikulu Fari (Chawai, Kauru) in Kaduna State in northern Nigeria. According to initial reports, armed men are said to have broken into the parish house around 11.30 pm (local time) on Sunday, February 6, reported Fides News Agency.

The bandits kidnapped Fr. Joseph Shekari and killed an unidentified cook who worked in the parish house. Kaduna State is one of the areas of Nigeria hit by the wave of violence that has spread much death and destruction in recent weeks. Criminal gangs have been active in central and north-western Nigeria for years, raiding villages, stealing cattle, looting, and even killing people. Most recently, on Sunday, January 31, 11 people were killed in the raid on the village of Kurmin Masara in the local government area of Zangon Kataf.

Kidnappings are a hallmark of terrorists in Nigeria, including Boko Haram and Islamic State-West Africa Province, and clergy are increasingly being targeted. For more than a month in Spring 2021, Father Bako Francis Awesuh, 37, a priest at St. John Paul II parish in Gadanaji, Kachia local government area, in Kaduna state, was held captive by Muslim Fulani herdsmen, who stand accused of deadly attacks on Christian farmers along Nigeria’s Middle Belt. Father Awesuh described his ordeal in a recent interview with Aid to the Church in Need.

Pope Francis appealed for the safety of people in Nigeria at the conclusion of his Sept. 29 General Audience in the Vatican’s Paul VI Hall, while expressing his closeness to the victims of the recent attack in northern Nigeria.

“I have heard with pain the news of the armed attacks that took place last Sunday against the villages of Madamai and Abun, in northern Nigeria,” Francis said, stating: “I pray for those who have died, for those who have been injured and for the entire population of Nigeria.”