More reactions have continued to trail the social media after a Fidei Donum Priest from Kaduna Archdiocese and the Parish Priest of St Vincent Ferrer's Parish, Malumfashi, Katsina State, Catholic Diocese of Sokoto, Rev. Fr. Alphonsus Yashim Bello, was killed in the early hours of Friday, May 21 by unknown gunmen who also kidnapped another 75-year-old Rev. Fr. Joe Keke.
One of the reactions coming from the Director of Communications, Catholic Archdiocese of Abuja, Very Rev. Fr. Patrick Tor Alumuku says: “So sad indeed. We need to embark on a national protest again...or else, one by one, these Boko Haram/ISIS/ISWAP/Herdsmen bandits will finish us. I know Fr. Joe Keke as one of the eldest and most dedicated priests who has worked in Sokoto diocese.
Fr. Alphonsus Bello was found dead May 21, the morning after his parish, St. Vincent Ferrer Catholic Church in the Diocese of Sokoto, was attacked by armed bandits; He was 33.
Fr. Bello was kidnapped along with another priest, Fr. Joe Keke, who remains missing, according to a statement from the diocese in the extreme northwest of Nigeria.
Fr. Cornelius Tagwai, chancellor of Sokoto diocese, appealed for prayers for “the immediate and safe return of Fr. Keke and for the peaceful repose of Fr. Bello.”
After the attack, Fr. Bello’s body was left in farmland behind the local catechetical training school.
“May the soul of Fr. Bello and the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace,” Tagwai said in a message sent to ACI Africa, CNA’s African news partner.
The Director of Communications, Catholic Diocese of Gboko, Rev. Fr. Immanuel Agbaise, while reacting to the sad incidence, said that: “Fr Joe Keke was my Parish Priest at Birnin Kebbi in the eighties, I was a young altar boy and my dad was his catechist. Please brothers and sisters let us keep praying for his safe release”.
According to Fr Agbaise,” the Muslims are fighting jihad and we are watching them with folded arms. They are using guerilla tactics but we are expecting them to come at us in an all-out confrontation before we realize it's a war. This is a pity. I say now is the time to defend ourselves. Does anyone see a connection here? Just yesterday the American Ambassador visited Bishop Kukah and today two of his priests are dead and another still missing. I don't think it is unconnected”.
In response to what seems like Fr. Agbaise’s rhetorical question, the Makurdi Diocesan Director of Communications, Very Rev. Fr. Moses Iorapuu said: “Saw the connection as soon as I saw the story. They are sending a message to both the Church and the US Government”.
The incident is the latest in a series of abductions and killings of clergy in Africa’s most populous country. On May 17, a Catholic priest serving in Nigeria’s northern Kaduna archdiocese was kidnapped with 10 other people in an attack by gunmen that killed eight people.
Two days later, bandits reportedly attacked an Assemblies of God church building in northern Nigeria, also killing eight people, according to local media.
Nigerians have suffered attacks from Boko Haram since 2009. Insecurity in the country has also worsened due to the actions of the predominantly Muslim Fulani militia, who often clash with farmers over grazing lands.
Bishops in Nigeria have repeatedly called on the government to do more to improve security in the country.
Archbishop Ignatius Kaigama of Abuja said May 7: “Insecurity is the greatest challenge facing our country. Boko Haram has menacingly ravaged the land, the herdsmen/farmer menace has festered and spread and has today developed into banditry, kidnapping, armed robbery, and brutal killings.”
“Nigeria is said to be the third country most impacted by terrorism. We call on the government to do the needful in ensuring that terrorists are checkmated, criminals rounded up, bandits dismantled, and kidnappers put out of business,” the archbishop said.
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