Two priests serving in the Sokoto Diocese in northern Nigeria were abducted after unidentified gunmen attacked their residence on Wednesday. Source: Vatican News.
According to media reports, the kidnappers stormed St Patrick Catholic Church in Katsina state in the early hours of Wednesday seizing Fr Stephen Ojapa, Fr Oliver Okpara and two unidentified boys.
Fr Chris Omotosho, the director of social communications for the Sokoto Diocese, who confirmed the incident in a statement, urged the faithful to pray for their safe return.
“Gunmen broke into the rectory of St Patrick’s Catholic Church ... the parish priest and his assistant, Rev. Frs. Stephen Ojapa, MSP, and Oliver Okpara, and two boys in the house were kidnapped,” the statement read.
The statement noted that there was no information as to the whereabouts of the four people seized during the raid.
“Kindly pray for their safety and release,” Fr Omotosho said.
This was the latest in a series of kidnappings and attacks that target church institutions, priests and religious men and women.
Earlier this month, the Kaduna Archdiocese announced that Fr Joseph Aketeh Bako died in captivity after being abducted in March by gunmen from his residence in St John Catholic Church, Kudenda, where he had been serving as parish priest.
Nigeria, especially the northern region, has been facing security challenges in the past years, fuelled by the activities of the Boko Haram Islamic extremist group, as well as clashes between nomadic herdsmen and the local indigenous farmers.
Nigeria: Gunmen abduct two priests, others in Katsina (Vatican News)