'Priests Are An Endangered Species' In Nigeria: One Kidnapped, Two Shot

Debris litters a neighbourhood in Nigeria after an attack by Muslim Fulani herdsmen.World Watch Monitor

A senior Nigerian priest has been kidnapped after the car in which he was travelling was stopped, allegedly by Fulani herdsmen. 

Fr Emmanuel Dim, Rector of Tansi Major Seminary, was with two other priests, who were both injured when they were attacked on Monday. One of them, Fr Chukwuemeka, a university chaplain, was shot in the head and is receiving treatment in hospital.

According to the director of communications for the Diocese of Nnewi in Anambra State, Fr Hyginus Aghaulor, Dim is still being held by the kidnappers, who are demanding a ransom of N2.5 million (about £6,000 or $8,000).

However, Aghaulor said: "The Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria has decided and directed that ransom should not be paid for the kidnap of any of its priests and anybody that is demanding for ransom for the release of any priest kidnapped is wasting time. If anybody or group goes ahead to pay ransom for the release of any priest, the person or the group is on his own."

He said: "One begins to wonder if Catholic priest have become [an] endangered species."

The kidnapping is the latest in a spate of incidents involving clergy in Nigeria. On the same day a Vincentian priest whose name has not been confirmed was kidnapped with his brother. Another priest, Fr Emmanuel Ugwu, was kidnapped in August and a seminarian was murdered.

Aghaulor criticised the governors of southeastern Nigeria, saying: "While innocent people are left unprotected, we have seen barrage of military wares and personnel protecting the pipelines in Niger Delta, as if oil is more important than people's life. Why should people be killed without provocation in their own traditional lands?"

Conflict between the Muslim Fulani herdsmen and the Christian population reflects clashes between nomadic pastoralists and settled farmers, whose ways of life are in tension.