Father Joseph Akete Bako has been officially confirmed dead after being abducted in early March in Kaduna State, Nigeria, while news emerged that another priest was kidnapped on Sunday (8th May).
Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need (UK) published reports of his death on 29th April which were confirmed yesterday by the Archdiocese of Kaduna which said he was killed by his abductors between 18th and 20th April.
The archdiocese statement said: “Father Joseph (aged 48) was kidnapped from his residence, in St John Catholic Church, Kudenda, where he was serving as parish priest, on the 8th March 2022.
“The fact of circumstances leading to his death and the date of the incident have been carefully verified, hence the communication at this time.”
The statement added: “[K]indly continue to pray for his peaceful repose, and for the consolation of the bereaved Christian community in the Archdiocese of Kaduna.”
On Sunday 8th May, Father Alphonsus Uboh was taken from his residence at St Pius X Parish, Ikot Abasi Akpan in Mkpat Enin local government area.
The Diocese of Uyo released a statement saying: “The unfortunate event happened on Sunday 8th May, 2022 around 7:30pm, shortly after he returned to his residence from visiting a sick member [of the parish].
“We call on all men and women of goodwill to pray for his release from the hands of his abductors.”
Father Emmanuel Anyanwu spoke to Catholic charity ACN, about the resilience of the Christian community in the face of frequent kidnappings of priests, as well as Islamist violence by groups such as Boko Haram.
He said: “Christians in Nigeria have continued to blossom in vocation and the faith. The Easter celebrations were clear evidence of this. Christians in Nigeria are asking everyone to pray for them as persecution increases daily.
“The faith continues to grow in the midst of these challenges. However, there is also some fears among the priests in trouble areas. But their courage in the midst of these challenges has been extremely exceptional.”
Speaking about the wider Islamist threat, he said: “These groups have been indoctrinated with evil extremists’ teachings. They see Western education and Christianity as evil. They use killings as a way of worship and forcing the evil extremist practice on the people.
“Those who reject these doctrines are killed. They intend to achieve the caliphate of Boko Haram and total Islamic government in Nigeria.”