Priest kidnapped and killed in Nigeria

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Father John Gbakaan Yaji(Photo: Father Emmanuel Anyanywu)

A Catholic priest has been kidnapped and killed in Nigeria’s Middle Belt.

The body of Father John Gbakaan Yaji, a young priest in Minna diocese, was discovered on Sunday, Aid to the Church in Need reports. 

He was abducted on the way home from Mass along with his brother on Friday. The pair were seized in Tufa village. 

The whereabouts of his brother, who has not been named, remain unknown. 

Father Emmanuel Anyanywu said he was “saddened” Fr Yaji’s murder. 

“Father John, who was barely four years in the priesthood, was a very gentle and humble priest, dedicated to the service of God and His people,” he told ACN. 

News of his death follows the release of another Catholic priest on Friday. Fr Michael Mbari, parish priest of St Peter’s in the diocese of Port Harcourt, in the south of the country, was released a week after being kidnapped. 

The Bishop of Port Harcourt, Camillus Archibong Etokudoh, said the kidnapping of Fr Mbari was “a sad story to show how unsafe we are in the present-day society as well as how helpless we can be in the face of insecurity”.

“I use this opportunity to appeal to the government to do something more to make life in our society safe and worth living,” he said. 

On New Year’s Day, Auxiliary Bishop Moses Chikwe of Owerri and his driver, Robert Ndubuisi, were released by their kidnappers five days after being kidnapped.

Rev John Hayab, vice-chairman of the northern region of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), has called on the Nigerian government to end the violence. 

He told Vanguard, a Nigerian newspaper: “Today in northern Nigeria many people are living in fear and many young people are afraid to become pastors because pastors’ lives are in great danger.

“When bandits or kidnappers realise that their victim is a priest or a pastor it seems a violent spirit does take over their heart to demand more ransom and in some cases go to the extent of killing the victim.”



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