Four Catholic priests were abducted by gunmen in or near the southern oil-producing state of Delta in Nigeria on Nov. 6.
The clerics’ names were given as Fathers Victor Adigboluja of Ijebu Ode Diocese, Anthony Otegbola of Abeokuta Diocese, Joseph Ediae of Benin Archdiocese, and Emmanuel Obadjere of Warri Diocese.
While details of the kidnapping remain hazy, they are believed to have been taken by herdsmen seeking to reclaim their ancestral land while traveling to an alumni meeting at the seminary of All Saints, Uhiele-Ekpoma in Edo State , according to punchng.com.
It was not clear if they were waylaid in Delta or Edo states but Andrew Aniamaka, the public relations officer of the Delta State Police Command, confirmed they had been taken.
Security forces had apparently retrieved their vehicles but no details were forthcoming about their whereabouts.
Benue State governor Terver Akase described the abduction as “barbaric, dehumanizing and shameful” and said such attacks threatened to tear Nigeria apart as the country eyes elections in 2019, the media reported.
The news comes after herdsmen murdered two Catholic priests and 17 worshippers in Mbalom, Gwer East Local Government Area of Benue State earlier this year.
Meanwhile, a brother of the Speaker of the state House of Assembly, Matthew Kolawole, was reportedly abducted with his wife and two other people on the Oshokoshoko-Kabba Road in the same region on Nov. 5 by attackers dressed in army and police uniforms.
Elsewhere in Africa, at least three priests – Father Joseph Desire Angbabata, Abbot Albert Tougoumale-Baba, and Firmin Gbagoua, vicar general of Bambari Diocese — were killed during peacemaking efforts by armed groups in the Central African Republic from March to June of this year.