International aid agency calls for government action in face of worsening security conditions.
UPDATE: Catholic News Agency has reported that one of the seminarians has been killed, allegedly by his captors.
“With a very heavy heart, I wish to inform you that our dear son, Michael [Nnadi] was murdered by the bandits on a date we cannot confirm,” Bishop Matthew Hassan Kukah of Sokoto, Nigeria, said in a February 1 statement. Nnadi, 18, and the wife of a doctor were “arbitrarily separated from the group and killed. The Rector identified the corpse this afternoon,” Kukah said.
The bishop said that he had to delay the announcement of Nnadi’s death until his mother could be informed.
“We have broken the news to her, and I will be with her,” Kukah said.
“The Lord knows best. Let’s remain strong and pray for the repose of his soul,” he added.
Three of the four Nigerian seminarians who were kidnapped in early January have been freed, Catholic News Agency reported Friday.
Fr. Joel Usman, a registrar at Good Shepherd Seminary in Kaduna, made the announcement January 31. One of the seminarians who was abducted from the seminary January 8 remains at large.
One of the three seminarians released had already been freed January 18. He was found by motorists on the side of the Abuja-Kaduna-Zaria Express Way, apparently beaten, and was taken to a hospital where he was treated.
Nearly 270 seminarians study at Good Shepherd. On the evening of January 8, gunmen, disguised in military camouflage, broke through the fence surrounding the living quarters and began shooting sporadically. They stole laptops and phones before kidnapping the four young men, who are first-year philosophy students, CNA said, citing a report by the Catholic news agency ACI Africa.
The seminarians are Pius Kanwai, 19; Peter Umenukor, 23; Stephen Amos, 23; and Michael Nnadi, 18. The report does not say which one is still being held.
CNA said Good Shepherd Seminary is located just off the Abuja-Kaduna-Zaria Express Way. According to French news agency AFP, the area is “notorious for criminal gangs kidnapping travelers for ransom.”
Thomas Heine-Geldern, executive president of ACN International, called the security situation in Nigeria “appalling,” and noted, “Criminal gangs are further exploiting the chaotic situation and making matters still worse.”
According to CNA, 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.”