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HomeBreakingBandit-Terrorists Kidnap Two Catholic Missionaries in Niger State’s No Man’s Land

Bandit-Terrorists Kidnap Two Catholic Missionaries in Niger State’s No Man’s Land

Fifth attack on Priests in Niger in Two Years

By Fr. Dauda Musa Bahago

A wave of attacks on Catholic priests in Niger State struck new victims in the first week of August. In the early hours of Thursday  August 3, 2023, armed bandits attacked a Catholic mission house belonging to the Missionaries of Africa (MAfr.), abducting a Catholic Priest, Rev Fr Paul Sanogo, and a young seminarian , Brother Melchiore Mahinini. Three other priests escaped the attack.

The kidnapping targeted the small, remote community of Gyedna in the Tafa Local Government Area of Niger State, 73 miles southeast of Minna, and  bordering the Federal Capital Territory of Abuja. The attack site is approximately 30 miles south of  Kafin Koro town, where Fr. Isaac Achi was killed by terrorists on Jan. 15,2023.  Since January 2021, four priests in Niger have been kidnapped for ransom; two were murdered.  The area of the crime is in the forested ungoverned space of land bordering Kaduna State and Abuja where hundreds of radicalized bandits shelter on a permanent basis, according to Douglas Burton, managing editor of TruthNigeria.

The kidnapping attack was announced  in a letter addressed to the public by the Catholic Bishop of Minna, Most Rev Dr Martin Igwe Uzoukwu, calling for prayers for the priest and the Seminarian.

Commenting on the incident, the coordinator, of the Justice Development and Peace Commission (JDPC) an NGO  of the  Minna Diocese,  has called the attack “an unfortunate event for us in the Catholic Diocese of Minna; and the Bishop is truly disturbed by the development. The entire people of God in Minna Diocese are fervently praying for the safe release of our two brothers, and the safe return of all those in captivity”.

The assault began from around 11:45 pm of August 2 and lasted till about 1:45 am  August 3. “We started hearing strong bangs on the back door where the dining hall is. We were all confused and began to run around to find a hiding place,” according to an eyewitness who spoke to TruthNigeria.  “Eventually they forced themselves in through the window. All of a sudden, they started breaking all the doors in the house looking for us. Eventually they took two of our brothers away,” said the priest, who asked not to be named for fear of retaliation by criminals.

The attack followed a murder and kidnapping in the  the Zazzaga community of Munya County on the border with Western Kaduna and 40 miles north of Gyedna, on August 1,  2023. In that attack, terrorists  killed one person, and kidnapped two  http://opr.news/437a989e230803en_ng?link=1&client=news

The Niger State Police Public Relations Officer, Wasiu Abiodun, confirmed the incident, saying “Police tactical teams led by the DPO of Tafa Division had been dispatched to the scene” according to Nigerian media  https://dailypost.ng/2023/08/03/two-catholic-priests-abducted-by-gunmen-in-niger/.

He added that “however, the location of the church was discovered to be on the outskirt of the town, which is about an hour drive from Sabon-Wuse [in Kaduna State], and surrounded with mountains and forest, close to Kagarko of Kaduna state.

“We advise other seminarians to relocate temporarily while investigation into the incident is ongoing with a view to rescuing the victims and arrest the perpetrators of the crime” https://linatv.com.ng/bandits-kidnap-catholic-priest-seminarian-in-niger/

The JDPC Minna however, while on a solidarity visit, found neither a police officer nor any police Van/car at the scene.

According to a local priest who asked not to be identified, the motivation for the attack was economic. “I think the motivation behind the continued kidnap of priests is because they (bandits) know that the Catholic community is sympathetic towards their priests and would always pay, even though the Catholic Bishop’s Conference of Nigeria (CBCN) has asked dioceses not to pay for ransom,” the priest said.

“They have a chain of connections where they inform each other of how much they made from the kidnap of a Catholic Priest. Hence, whenever they are broke, they simply locate a Catholic Priest for abduction,” he added.

Fr. Dauda Musa Bahago is the Niger State Coordinator of the Justice Development and Peace Commission (JDPC) for the Minna Diocese and a contributor to TruthNigeria.

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