Four seminarians, between the ages of 18 and 23, were abducted last week from their seminary in Kaduna, in northwestern Nigeria.
Pius Kanwai, 19; Peter Umenukor, 23; Stephen Amos, 23; and Michael Nnadi, 18, were taken from Good Shepherd Seminary in Kaduna, around 10:30 pm on Jan. 8 by gunmen. Police are searching for the four young men.
Nearly 270 seminarians live at Good Shepherd.
“The security situation in Nigeria is appalling”, Thomas Heine-Geldern, executive president of ACN International, said on January 13. “Criminal gangs are further exploiting the chaotic situation and making matters still worse.”
He compared the situation in Nigeria to that of Iraq prior to the Islamic State’s invasion: “Already at that stage, Christians were being abducted, robbed and murdered because there was no protection by the state. This must not be allowed to happen to the Christians of Nigeria. The government must act now, before it is too late.”
The gunmen, disguised in military camouflage, broke through the fence surrounding the seminarians’ living quarters and began shooting sporadically. They stole laptops and phones before kidnapping the four young men.
A source in Nigeria told ACI Africa that the kidnappers made contact with family members of the seminarians Jan. 11, “but never pronounced any amount of money as ransom.”
Each of the abductees were first year philosophers, sources told ACI Africa.
Good Shepherd Seminary is located just off the Abuja-Kaduna-Zaria Express Way. According to AFP, the area is “notorious for criminal gangs kidnapping travelers for ransom.”
The news agency said that schoolgirls and staff from a boarding school also located near the highway were kidnapped in October, and were later released.
Kidnappings of Christians in Nigeria have multiplied in recent months, a situation that has prompted Church leaders to express serious concern about the security of their members and to call on the government to prioritize the security of its citizens.