One of four Nigerian seminarians kidnapped last month has been killed, reportedly by his abductors. The three seminarians kidnapped along with him were released in the weeks following their kidnapping.
“With a very heavy heart, I wish to inform you that our dear son, Michael was murdered by the bandits on a date we cannot confirm. He and the wife of a doctor were arbitrarily separated from the group and killed. The Rector identified the corpse this afternoon,” Bishop Matthew Hassan Kukah of Sokoto, Nigeria, said in a statement released Feb. 1.
Michael Nnadi was 18 years old.
Information about the woman killed with Nnadi is not yet available.
Nnadi himself was taken by gunmen from Good Shepherd Seminary in Kaduna, around 10:30 pm on Jan. 8.
With him were Pius Kanwai, 19; Peter Umenukor, 23; and Stephen Amos, 23. The four seminarians were at the beginning of their philosophy studies.
The gunmen, disguised in military camouflage, broke through the fence surrounding the seminarians’ living quarters and began shooting sporadically. They stole laptops and phones before kidnapping the four young men.
On Jan. 20, ACI Africa, CNA’s African news partner, reported that one of the abducted seminarians had been freed by his kidnappers after 10 days in captivity. That seminarian was dumped alongside the highway with extensive injuries, which are believed to have been sustained during the kidnapping. He is now receiving medical treatment.
On Friday, Jan. 31, an official at Good Shepherd Seminary announced that two more of the kidnapped seminarians had been released. At that time, it was reported that one seminary was still at large, and was presumed to remain in captivity. That seminarian was Nnadi.
In his Feb. 1 statement, Bishop Kukah said that he had to delay the announcement of Nnadi’s death slightly until his mother could be informed.
“We have broken the news to her and I will be with her,” Kukah said Feb. 1.
“The Lord knows best. Let’s remain strong and pray for the repose of his soul,” Kukah added.
Nearly 270 seminarians live at Good Shepherd.
The seminary is located just off the Abuja-Kaduna-Zaria Express Way. According to AFP, the area is “notorious for criminal gangs kidnapping travelers for ransom.”
Schoolgirls and staff from a boarding school located near the same highway were kidnapped in October, and were later released.
In the last year, several priests and seminarians, along with pastors from other Christian denominations, have been kidnapped in Nigeria, some for ranson, and some by Islamist militant and terrorist groups.
Church leaders have called on the government to prioritize the security of its citizens.
“The security situation in Nigeria is appalling”, Thomas Heine-Geldern, executive president of ACN International, said Jan. 13. “Criminal gangs are further exploiting the chaotic situation and making matters still worse.”
He compared the situation in Nigeria to that of Iraq prior to the Islamic State’s invasion: “Already at that stage, Christians were being abducted, robbed and murdered because there was no protection by the state. This must not be allowed to happen to the Christians of Nigeria. The government must act now, before it is too late.”
For his part, Bishop Kukah urged prayer.
“Please let us be calm. May God give him eternal rest,” he wrote Feb. 1.
Funeral arrangements for Nnadi have not yet been announced.