By Odiwuor Opiyo
KADUNA, MARCH 11, 2022 (CISA) – A catholic priest in Nigeria, Rev Fr Joseph Akete Beko, was kidnapped in the wee hours of Tuesday morning according to an official statement by the Catholic Archdiocese of Kaduna.
“We regret to officially confirm the incident of abduction of one of our priests, Rev Fr Joseph Akete Beko from his residence at St John Catholic Church, Kudenda, at about 1:30 am on Tuesday, 8th March 2022,” read the statement.
The statement also said the security guard, a Mr Luka Phillip, was killed and four other people alongside the priest were abducted from the neighbouring houses.
“We call on all men and women of goodwill to continue to pray for the safe release of Fr Joseph Akete Bako and the other innocent persons abducted with him; for the peaceful repose of Mr Luka Philip and divine consolation upon his bereaved family,” implored Rev Fr Christian Okewu Emmanuel, the Chancellor of the Catholic Archdiocese of Kaduna.
Rev Fr Beko is yet another victim of the increasing wave of terror unleashed on Christians in Nigeria by perceived Islamic extremist groups since 2009 when the Boko Haram insurgency began.
Ethnic conflicts between the predominantly Muslim Fulani herdsmen and Christian farmers in the country over grazing land has further complicated the question of religious tolerance.
On February 6, 2022, another priest, Rev. Fr. Joseph Danjuma Shekari was also abducted by unknown gunmen from the Rectory at St. Monica’s Catholic Church, Ikulu Pari in Kauru Local Government Area, Kaduna State. He was, however, returned safely after a day, according to a report by Fr. Emmanuel Uchechukwu the then chancellor of Nigeria’s Kafanchan Diocese.
“With hearts filled with joy, we raise our voices in a symphony of praises as we announce the return of our brother, Rev. Fr. Joseph Danjuma Shekari, who was abducted by armed persons,” he said at the time.
In the incident, the Parish cook was killed.
In 2021, Fr. Izu Marcel Onyeocha, a member of the Congregation of Missionaries, Sons of the Immaculate Heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Claretians) was kidnapped and later freed.
“May God bring to an end this evil of abduction and terrorism in our land,” prayed Rev Fr Okewu.