Father Cheitnum’s funeral Mass is scheduled for July 21 at St Peter’s Church in Kafanchan.
After two Catholic priests were kidnapped at an elementary school in Nigeria last week, a neighboring parish announced on July 19 that one priest had fled at the same time and the other had been killed.
Father John Mark Chaitnam and Father Denatus Cleopa were abducted by a representative of the Catholic King Christian Church in the town of Lere, Kaduna, northern Nigeria, around 5:45 pm on July 15.
Father Cleopas fled in his lifestyle, but on the day of his abduction, Father Cheitnum was “brutally killed” by his prisoners, according to a letter from the Parish of Kafanchan. His funeral mass is scheduled for July 21st at St. Peter’s Basilica in Kafanchan. Father Emmanuel Uchechukwu Okoro, the prime minister of the parish of Kafanchan, told CNA last week that he asked people to pray for the prompt and safe release of the abducted clergymen.
In his July 19 letter, he stated that Father Cheitnum’s body was found that day. The parish did not say who was behind the kidnapper or whether the two priests were required to pay a ransom. In addition to being the CAN coordinator in South Kaduna, Father Cheitnum chaired the Nigerian Christian Association (CAN) of the Jema’a local government. At least seven Catholic priests were kidnapped in Nigeria in July, according to records provided to the Catholic nonprofit Aid to the Church in Need.
The abduction of Christians in Nigeria has increased in recent years, and church leaders have raised serious concerns about the safety of participants and urged the government to prioritize the safety of its inhabitants. In particular, the Kaduna state of Nigeria has been described by Christian Solidarity International, a US-based human rights group, as “the center of kidnapping and violence by non-royal actors” in Nigeria.
The 2022 Freedom of Thought and Conscience records describe six attacks on the church building of the Kingdom of Kaduna in 2021. Furani nomads, mostly Muslims, are increasingly at war with predominantly Christian farmers over the limited natural resources of Kaduna and other states.
In recent years, and the new Islamic institution Boko Haram claims to be threatening the protection of northern Nigeria.
- One of the Three Abducted Priests in Kaduna was confirmed dead
- Two Catholic priests kidnapped in Nigeria
- Priest kidnapped in Nigeria
- 3 of 4 kidnapped Nigerian seminarians are free, according to report