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Nigeria – Catholic priest brutally killed

Fr. John Gbakaan, a priest of the diocese of Minna, Nigeria. (Public domain via CNA)

(Agenzia Fides) – Fr. John Gbakaan, parish priest of the Saint Anthony Church in Gulu, in the diocese of Minna, was kidnapped and murdered on January 15 along the road from Lambata to Lapai in the state of Niger. This was confirmed yesterday, Sunday, January 17th, by the parish priest of the parish of St. Teresa in Madala, Fr. John Jatau, who announced that Fr. Gbakaan, together with his brother and another priest, had gone to Makurdi in the state of Benue on January 14th to visit his mother.

On January 15, the priest and his brother were ambushed by armed men on their way back along the road from Lambata to Lapai. The attack took place around 9 p.m. near the village of Tufa. The two brothers were abducted by armed men who turned to the diocese of Minna with a ransom demand on Saturday, January 16. Initially, the kidnappers demanded a sum of thirty million naira, which they later reduced to five million naira.

In the meantime, however, the priest’s lifeless body was found near the site of the kidnapping. Father Gbakaan was allegedly executed with a machete in such a brutal manner that identification was hardly possible. The Toyota Venza that the priest was traveling in was also found in the bush. There is still no news of his brother, who is said to be still in the hands of the kidnappers.

The Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, at the national level, has asked the Federal Government to put an end to the abduction and killing of religious leaders by bandits in the country. CAN’s Vice Chairman (Northern region), Rev. John Hayab, who made the call in a chat with Vanguard while reacting to the killing of a priest of the Minna Catholic diocese, Fr. John Gbakaan Yaji during the weekend, described the killing of the Catholic priest as ‘shocking and painful’, stating that insecurity in the North had assumed a more alarming dimension.

“We received the news of the kidnapped and killing of our dear Rev Father John with great shock and pains”, said Rev. Hayab. “Today in Northern Nigeria many people are living in fear and many young people are afraid to become pastors because pastors lives are in great danger”. “When bandits or kidnappers realised that their victim is a priest or a pastor it seems a violent spirit do take over their heart to demand more ransom and in some cases go to the extent of killing the victim”, he emphasized on behalf of the Association of Christian Denominations. “We are simply pleading with the Federal Government and all security agencies to do whatever it will take to bring this evil to a stop”.

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