Another Catholic priest, Father John Gbakaan, was killed in Niger state by some unknown gunmen.
The priest was the Dean of the newly established Lapai Deanery prior to his death and was also in charge of St. Anthony’s Gulu Parish in the state’s Lapai local government district.
On Sunday, Father John Jatau, a close colleague of the deceased and priest in charge of St. Theresa Catholic Parish Madala, confirmed this through telephone conversation to Channels Television.
He said Father Gbakaan had travelled to Makurdi in Benue state with his brother and another priest on Thursday, where he went to see his mother.
On his way back, he and his brother were targeted along the Lambata-Lapai road by gunmen. After Father Gbakaan dropped Father Jatua at Suleja, the incident took place at approximately 9 pm.
The assailants were said to have descended with machetes upon the priest, hacking his body beyond recognition.
Father Jatau said that the priest’s body was found bound to a tree in a bush the next day, Saturday, after alarm had been raised by some vigilante members in the area.
Also discovered in the bush was the Toyota Venza car that the priest was riding in.
In the meantime, the brother of the deceased has been kidnapped and has yet to be identified.
According to Father Jatau, the gunmen made an appeal to the Catholic Diocese of Minna on Saturday, demanding the amount of thirty million Naira, but the ransom was later reduced to five million Naira in the course of negotiations.
Negotiations were said to be underway at the time of the filing of this article, while the body of the slain priest was deposited at the IBB Specialist Hospital mortuary in Minna.
As neither the Police Public Relations Officer, ASP Abiodun Wasiu, nor the Commissioner could be contacted, attempts to take the side of the police on the matter proved abortive.
It was also not possible to contact Bishop Martin Ozuokwu of the Minna Catholic Church, His Lordship, by phone.
Father Gbakaan’s killing brings the number of Christian clerics killed in recent times after the renewed bandit attacks in the state of Niger to two.
In December 2020, gunmen who invaded his farm while harvesting his produce were killed in Chukuba village in Shiroro local government area by a Christian clergy with the Evangelical Church of West Africa.