Nigeria: Archdiocese of Kaduna Confirms Kidnapping of Priest

Father Joseph Akete Bako

Archdiocese of Kaduna
© Fides

The Archdiocese of Kaduna has officially confirmed, in a statement sent to Agenzia Fides, the kidnapping of Father Joseph Akete Bako, parish priest of the Catholic Church of St. John, in Kudenda in the local government area of Kaduna South, Kaduna State. “We regret to officially confirm the abduction of one of our priests, Father Joseph Akete Bako, from his residence at St John’s Church, Kudenda, at approximately 1:30 a.m. on the night of March 8.

During the assault, security guard Luka Philip was killed, while four other people were abducted from nearby homes”, the statement reported. The Archdiocese invites the faithful to pray for the person killed and for the release of those kidnapped. At first, the state government and law enforcement authorities did not confirm the news, while the Archdiocese spoke through its chancellor, Fr Anthony Dodo, who told a local television station that armed men had burst into the parish house in the early hours of Tuesday, after shooting dead the security guard.

This is only the latest in a series of clerical kidnappings in Nigeria.

Fr. Joseph Danjuma Shekari, a Nigerian priest was kidnapped on the night of Sunday, February 6. He was released around 10.30 pm (local time) on Monday, February 7.

Fr. Shekari is parish priest of St. Monica’s Catholic Church, Ikulu Parish, in the Kauru Local Government Area of Kaduna State, in north-central Nigeria. He was kidnapped around 11.30 pm on Sunday, February 6 by armed men who had stormed the parish house. The cook of the parish house was killed in the attack.

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.