Again, gunmen kidnap, kill Catholic priest

Another Catholic Priest, Rev. Fr. Alphonsus Bello, has been killed while one other, Rev. Fr. Joe Keke, 73, is believed to be in custody of gunmen who attacked St. Vincent Ferrer Catholic Church Malunfashi, Katsina state.

The clerics were said to have been kidnapped when gunmen stormed the church, Thursday night, and started shooting sporadically into the air, leaving some people injured.

The Chancellor of Sokoto Diocese, Rev. Fr. Cornelius Tagwai, broke the news of the kidnapping of the priests in a statement Friday morning.

It read in part, “With a heavy heart, I officially announce the call to eternal rest of Rev. Fr. Alphonsus Yashim Bello, who until his death was a Fidei Donum Priest from Kaduna Archdiocese and the Parish Priest of St Vincent Ferrer’s Parish, Malumfashi, Katsina state.

“This sad event took place at the early hours of today, Friday, May 21, 2021. The late Fr Bello was kidnapped along with Very Rev Fr. Joseph Keke, the most Senior Priest of Sokoto Diocese, but his lifeless body was later found abandoned behind the CTC, Malumfashi. The whereabouts of Fr Keke is not yet known.”

Meanwhile, reactions have continued to trail this recent attack on the Catholic Church, even as the Director of Communications, Catholic Archdiocese of Abuja, Very Rev. Fr. Patrick Tor Alumuku, has called for national protest.

Alumuku said: “It’s sad indeed. We need to embark on a national protest again…or else, one by one, these Boko Haram/ISIS/ISWAP/ bandits will finish . I know Fr. Joe Keke is one of the eldest and most dedicated priests who has worked in Sokoto diocese.”

On his part, the Director of Communications, Catholic Diocese of Gboko, Rev. Fr. Immanuel Agbaise, said: “Fr. Joe Keke was my Parish Priest at Birnin Kebbi in the eighties; I was a young altar boy and my dad was his catechist. Please, brothers and sisters let us keep praying for his safe release.

“The Muslims are fighting jihad and we are watching them with folded arms. They are using guerilla tactics but we are expecting them to come at us in an all-out confrontation before we realise it’s a war.

“This is a pity. I say now is the time to defend ourselves. Does anyone see a connection here? Just yesterday, the American Ambassador visited Bishop Kukah and today of his priests are dead and another still missing. I don’t think it is unconnected.”

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