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Two Catholic priests abducted in Nigeria

Father Stephen Ojapah (L) and Father Oliver Okpara (Right) were abducted in Nigeria's Sokoto Diocese on May 25, 2022. (Photo by Father Chris Omotosho)

Two Catholic priests were kidnapped and a Catholic rectory was attacked in northwest Nigeria on May 25.

According to a statement from the Diocese of Sokoto, Father Stephen Ojapah and Father Oliver Okpara were abducted after gunmen broke into the church's rectory in the middle of the night on May 25.

Father Chris Omotosho, a spokesman for the diocese, said that two boys were also abducted besides the priests, according to Association for Catholic Information in Africa (CIA), Catholic News Agency’s Africa news partner.

Father Ojapah, the abducted priest, who is a member of the Missionary Society of St. Paul of Nigeria, appealed for prayers "for their safety and release."

Nigeria, Africa's most populous country, has been the target of several attacks involving church institutions in the past.

Several Catholic churches in the area were vandalized by Muslim youths on May 14, including the Holy Family Catholic Cathedral, St. Kevin's Catholic Church, and St. Bakhita Center, according to sources. 

In protest of the arrest of suspects in the stoning of Deborah Yakubu on May 12, youths vandalized churches.

Christian student Yakubu’s body was stoned to death and then burned by male students at the college because she was accused of blasphemy.

After testifying that Jesus helped her pass exams, she was accused of making blasphemous comments toward the Prophet Muhammad.

As attacks in Nigeria continue, Bishop Wilfred Chikpa Anagbe of Makurdi, Benue State, released a statement on May 20 asking why the government stays silent.

Pastoral visits to Benue State are nearly impossible because of the widespread terrorism by Islamist Fulani herdsmen.

Nigerian Christians are suffering because of the silence of the international community.

It appears that Christians are abandoned to the mercy of the jihadists, despite church authorities’ countless attempts to draw the attention of the outside world to the Islamist plan to Islamize Christian areas. - Anbu Selvam 

 

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