“Armed bandits raided the community and shot sporadically for about 30 minutes,” Fr. Kevin Oselumhense Anetor told CNA’s African news partner, ACI Africa.
“The gunmen scaled through the fence of the priest’s house, while others positioned themselves outside, before entering Fr. Matthew’s bedroom and whisking him away.”
Kidnappings of Catholics in Nigeria are an ongoing problem that not only affects priests and seminarians, but also lay faithful, Kaigama said.
“We have cases of abductions, detentions, and killings by terrorist groups, criminal herdsmen, bandits, and gangs of kidnappers to contend with,” he said.
“Last week, in one of our parishes in Abuja archdiocese behind the parish house, five children of the same parents were kidnapped, and the following day a woman preparing for her church wedding was also kidnapped. They have not been found.”
The Islamist group Boko Haram has been behind many of the abductions, including that of 110 students kidnapped from their boarding school in Feb. 2018. Of those kidnapped, one girl, Leah Sharibu, is still being held.
“Leah has become a symbol of Christian resilience against forced conversion,” the archbishop said.
He added that “however we must not forget the remaining 112 Chibok girls and others who are held captive with many either dead or forcefully married off,” referring to the kidnapping of 276 girls in the town of Chibok, Borno State, in 2014.
“Others like her are used as human shields, sex slaves, or bargaining chips for ransom from government and international organizations,” he said.
“The forceful abduction and conversion of underage Christians girls is real. On the other hand, Muslim girls who freely choose to marry Christian men face threats of death.”
Archbishop Kaigama spoke at a virtual event organized by Aid to the Church in Need UK for “Red Wednesday.”
Aid to the Church in Need began the annual Red Wednesday initiative in 2015 to draw attention to the plight of persecuted Christians around the world by illuminating in red major landmarks, such as the Colosseum in Rome and Westminster Cathedral in London.
(Story cotinues below)
Subscribe to our daily newsletter
At Catholic News Agency, our team is committed to reporting the truth with courage, integrity, and fidelity to our faith. We provide news about the Church and the world, as seen through the teachings of the Catholic Church. When you subscribe to the CNA UPDATE, we'll send you a daily email with links to the news you need and, occasionally, breaking news.
As part of this free service you may receive occasional offers from us at EWTN News and EWTN. We won't rent or sell your information, and you can unsubscribe at any time.
At the event, the Nigerian archbishop appealed for support for his community as it struggled with the attacks of Boko Haram and other groups.
“Western nations need to pay the same attention to this reality as they vigorously do in their countries in the case of the COVID-19 pandemic,” he said.
“The Christian-dominated Middle Belt and some parts of northern Nigeria will have no future if groups like Boko Haram and allied terror groups continue to harass them.”
“The U.K. and other nations with Christians roots should speak and act more in favor of freedom in northern Nigeria.”
Kaigama said that the United Nations, the European Union, and key countries like the United States could also do more in sharing strategic intelligence and give more technical support in the face of these terrorist threats.
“We are united in prayer and action for Christians unjustly detained for their faith. We strongly urge that they all be set free,” he said.