The names of four seminarians kidnapped in Nigeria by armed intruders last week have been released by Aid to the Church in Need.
The Catholic charity has named Pius Kanwai, 19, Peter Umenukor, 23, Stephen Amos, 23, and Michael Nnadi, 18, as the men abducted on the 8th of January from the Good Shepherd Major Seminary.
The four men were from different dioceses and had only just started studying for the priesthood in the northern city of Kaduna.
Armed men broke through the seminary’s perimeter, forced access into the student hostel, and abducted the seminarians whilst stealing valuables.
Whilst the kidnappers’ identity and motives remain unknown, the Rev John Joseph Hayab, president of the Christian Association of Nigeria, has said that it could be for religious or financial reasons.
Hayab states that abductions, which have recently risen sharply in Kaduna, are “big business” across the country.
Over the past year, however, there have been a number of abductions of Christians that seem likely to be religiously motivated.
In March 2019, Father John Bako Shekwolo and Father Clement Ugwu were both kidnapped. Father Clement’s corpse was discovered a few days later 12 miles from his home in Enugu state. Father Shekwolo, of Kaduna Archdiocese, is still missing. Leah Sharibu, a school student from Dapchi, Nigeria, was abducted on the 19 th February 2018 and is still in the custody of her kidnappers, the islamist group Boko Haram.
Taken with 109 other students from the Government Girls Science and Technical College, Sharibu was the only one to remain in capitivity after she refused to convert to Islam. Reports in December 2019 confirmed that Sharibu is still alive. Hundreds of Christians were killed in Nigeria last year, in most part by militant Fulani herdsmen or by Boko Haram. Nigeria was ranked at number 12 in the world in the 2019 watchlist published by the Christian persecution monitor Open Doors.