An Irish missionary has decried the violence and kidnapping of religious in Nigeria as “complete anarchy”, after four seminarians were abducted last week in Kaduna state.
Fr Kevin O’Hara SPMS, who is based in the country, said that “scores of priests and sisters have been kidnapped in the past few years”, with many being killed by their captors.
When this paper went to print there was still no news of the indigenous seminarians who were kidnapped on January 8 from the Good Shepherd of Kakau Major Seminary in central Nigeria.
The perpetrators attacked the seminary in the morning and a number of gunshots were fired before they took the seminarians. It is believed they will try to get a ransom for the men, however the bishops’ conference in Nigeria has prohibited paying ransoms for some years.
“There is a great tension between Muslims and Christians in Kaduna,” Fr O’Hara said.
“There are so many killings and kidnappings in the area. A group of soldiers were killed and ambushed at the weekend.
“Fingers are being pointed at Fulani Muslims who are being used by different interest groups. It almost like complete anarchy in Kaduna state.”
This comes as 11 people were killed over the Christmas by Islamic extremists, one was shot and 10 beheaded in the north-eastern region of the country.
Irish missionaries and charities have warned of the growing dangers for Christians in Nigeria, particularly in Borno state, from extremist groups such as Boko Haram.
Speaking to The Irish Catholic, the Director of Missions for the Augustinians, Fr Francis Ahern OSA – who served in Nigeria for decades – said: “It’s been going on for a few years with Boko Haram, the army don’t seem to be able to put down the unrest.
“Many churches have been burnt to the ground, a lot of things have happened there and schools have been closed, of course, in Borno state.
“The fear is that it will spread to some other states, kidnapping has certainly gone on in other states. It’s very sad we had a number of schools, clinics things like that and from what I can gather they’re all destroyed now in the north-east, I suppose over the past 15 years, the vast majority of them.”
According to Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need, who have done extensive investigations into the persecution of Christians in Nigeria: “Local Church reports describe State and military collusion in killing Christians with key positions in government infiltrated by the Fulani terrorist network and vote-rigging.
“Also noted is extensive funding and sophisticated weapons supplied to Islamist extremists.”