Nigerian bishop: Tens of thousands spent to rescue kidnapped priests, seminarians — By: Catholic News Agency

Bishop Matthew Hassan Kukah of the Diocese of Sokoto in Nigeria. / Credit: CTV Nigeria

ACI Africa, Nov 3, 2023 / 14:15 pm (CNA).

A lack of security is impoverishing the Church in Nigeria, the bishop of Nigeria’s Sokoto Diocese said this week, noting that in the northern part of the country alone, more than 30 million naira (about $37,200) has been spent to rescue Church personnel.

Most of the money has been spent rescuing priests, seminarians, and other pastoral caregivers who were kidnapped by various militia groups in the region, Bishop Matthew Hassan Kukah said in a Tuesday, Oct. 31, interview with ACI Africa, CNA’s news partner in Africa.

“Many things have happened to us in Sokoto. We have had our churches burnt down, the killing of Deborah Emmanuel [a Nigerian Christian student who was murdered by a Muslim mob], our cathedral was almost burnt down, and my priests were almost killed,” Kukah said. “I have lost a seminarian, I’ve lost a priest; we have spent over 30 million naira, which we don’t have, to rescue our pastoral agents from kidnappers.”

The vocal bishop lamented the lack of support to cope with the situation in the embattled region, saying: “I cannot remember anybody from some part of Nigeria calling me to say ‘Bishop, we heard what has happened to you. What can we do, is there any way we can help, are you safe?’”

“We are all part of one body, when one part hurts, the rest of the body hurts, but we in northern Nigeria have the feeling that we are hurting alone,” said the 71-year-old bishop, who has been the local ordinary of Sokoto since 2011.

“The most painful thing for me as a Christian — and I speak for all the Christians who are living in northern Nigeria, with all the challenges that we face — we find very little interest from our Christian brothers who are living in comfort and luxury outside northern Nigeria … their inability to appreciate the urgency of the Gospel and to express [a] keyword like solidarity,” he said.

Nigeria has witnessed a surge in violence orchestrated by gangs, whose members carry out indiscriminate attacks, kidnappings for ransom, and in some cases, killings.

The West African nation has also since 2009 experienced an insurgency of attacks by Boko Haram, a group that allegedly aims at turning Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation, into an Islamic country.

This story was first published by ACI Africa, CNA’s news partner in Africa, and has been adapted by CNA.

Read More