Nigeria, bandits attack rectory and kidnap parish priest

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By John

The plague of priest kidnappings in Nigeria does not stop. The pastor Father Thaddeus Tarhembe was kidnapped in the parish of St. Ann in the Ibi local council of Taraba State (north-eastern Nigeria) in the early hours of yesterday, Sunday 29 October. According to the testimonies of some parishioners, a gang made up of numerous armed individuals broke into the parish and took the priest away, reports the Vatican agency Fides. Bishop Mark Nzukwein, bishop of Wukari, in a statement released through the communications director of the diocese, confirmed that the parish priest was kidnapped in the parish rectory. The pontifical foundation Aid to the Church in Need also says on Twitter that it “prays for yet another kidnapped priest and once again asks for security for the local Christian community”.

Kidnapping for ransom has long become a real “industry” in Nigeria. Those who pay the price are ordinary citizens but often also ecclesiastical personnel, captured during street kidnappings or as in this case, in actual attacks, usually at night, on convents and parish houses. A few days ago, a gang of Fulani shepherds raided the Benedictine monastery of Eruku in the state of Kwara, in central-northern Nigeria, with the capture of a novice, Godwin Eze, then killed by the kidnappers and the body thrown into the river, and of two postulants, Anthony Eze And Peter Olarewaj, later released.

“Father Godwin Eze was killed to scare the two postulants who had been kidnapped with him”, the Benedictines of the Eruku convent told Fides. «Our monastery is located in an isolated area, surrounded by the fields we cultivate. We don’t have a fence and now we are afraid to go and cultivate the land also because the bandits threatened to return», added the religious. In the State of Taraba at the end of September the police announced the arrest of 20 alleged members of a gang dedicated to kidnapping, which led to the recovery of a sum of money resulting from ransoms paid by the families of several kidnapped people, and several weapons.