Suspected Fulani bandits attacked a Benedictine monastery in northern Nigeria Tuesday, abducting three people from the monastery.
The attack came at about 1:00 am, according to officials in the Diocese of Ilorin, where the monastery is located.
“I received a shocking text message from one of our brother monks from Benedictine monastery in Eruku, that the Fulani bandits came to the monastery at about 1am this morning and kidnapped three of their brothers,” Fr. Anselm Lawani, diocesan administrator, wrote in a message to Catholics Oct. 17.
“I have been in touch with them moments ago to find out what happened,” the priest said, adding that “the security agencies are being notified about this unfortunate incident.”
According to Lawani, novice Brother Godwin Eze was kidnapped during the Fulani attack, along with two postulants: Anthony Eze and Peter Olarewaju.
The attack was confirmed directly to The Pillar by Fr. Christopher Atoyebi, communications director of the Ilorin diocese, who had few details to report on where the men might be held, or whether a ransom will be demanded for their release.
For his part, Lawani urged prayer.
“Please let us commence our prayers for their protection and quick release from the hands of the bandits…may our blessed mother Mary intercede for our brothers who are in the den of the kidnappers, and she deliver us from every evil through Christ our Lord. Amen.”
Across Nigeria, the kidnapping of clerics is on the rise — 30 priests were kidnapped in Nigeria in 2022, while at least 40 were killed in the same year.
Earlier this year, Fr. Stephen Ojapah, a Nigerian priest who was held captive for 33 days in 2022, launched an organization to help Nigerians receive mental health care to cope with the trauma of terrorism in their country.
Ojapah noted that his own month-long experience of being kidnapped “has left me and others with deep trauma.”
He pointed to the experience of post-traumatic stress disorder PTSD, which can affect kidnapping victims.
“Many are in dire need,” he said in August.
A year after gaining his freedom, the 39-year-old priest is now working to build O-Trauma Victims Initiative (OTVI), a project he explained is “for Nigerians …to help us deal with the trauma that comes with banditry and other forms of violence.”
To respond to these needs, OTVI offers medical care, trauma counseling, and legal aid to victims of kidnapping in Nigeria. It also provides vocational training and economic programs to help kidnapping victims recover financially.
The Ilorin diocese told The Pillar Tuesday it will provide updates on the situation of the men abducted from Eruku Monastery.