AFRICA/NIGERIA - A priest killed and another kidnapped in northern Nigeria

Friday, 21 May 2021

Abuja (Agenzia Fides) - A priest killed and another kidnapped. This is the toll of the assault perpertrated by unidentified armed men against the parish of St. Vincent Ferrer in Malunfashi, in the State of Katsina, in northern Nigeria. The murdered priest is Father Alphonsus Bello, while the kidnapped is Father Joe Keke. The group of armed men who stormed the parish on the night of 20 May fired some shots and wounded some people. The Director of National Social Communications of the Catholic Secretariat of Nigeria, Fr. Mike Umoh, confirmed the news and said that the criminals laid the lifeless body of Fr Alphonsus Bello on the farmland behind the catechetical training school, while the fate of Fr. Joe Keke is still unknown. Umoh said: "Last night, one of the parishes in the diocese of Sokoto - the Catholic church of St. Vincent Ferrer in Malunfashi, in the state of Katsina - was attacked by unidentified gunmen. Two priests were kidnapped, Father Joe Keke and Alphonsus Bello. Father Keke, the former parish priest, is about 70 years old while Fr. Bello, the current murdered parish priest, was thirty years old". "This morning (today May, 21) the body of Fr. Alphonsus Bello was found lifeless on the farmland behind the Catechetical Training School. We do not know where Fr. Joe Keke is. So far no contact has been made with the kidnappers". Meanwhile, a reliable source from the Catholic diocese of Sokoto said the deceased priest belonged to the Archdiocese of Kaduna, but was dsestined for the diocese of Sokoto and engaged in the parish of Malumfashi in Katsina. (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides, 21/5/2021)