AFRICA/NIGERIA - The Nigerian Bishops' Conference: 'Published figures of priests killed or abducted are incorrect'

Wednesday, 25 January 2023 kidnappings   missionaries killed  

Abuja (Agenzia Fides) - "According to the information we have, the data is not entirely correct". Thus Father Zacharia Nyantiso Aya Samjumi, secretary general of the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria (CBCN), when questioned by Fides, denies what was incorrectly reported by a publication ("Sahara Reports") according to which 145 Catholic priests were killed in Nigeria in 2022. The figure, with a strong impact, was immediately relaunched without any serious verification by digital newspapers. But official bodies of the Catholic Church in Nigeria provide no confirmation to the numbers circulated online regarding Catholic priests killed in the country from January to December 2022. "There have been attacks on Catholic priests," Father Zacharia Nyantiso Aya Samjumi repeats, "but the number does not correspond to what has been published. We are still collecting data, even though they are coming slowly from the dioceses. In any case, the figure given by the online publication is not correct".
In reality, this figure results from an incorrect reading data from a report by Nigerian intelligence firm SB Morgen Intelligence, SBM, released on January 23, that 39 Catholic priests were killed in 2022 while another 30 were kidnapped last year.
The report also stated that 145 attacks on Catholic priests were recorded in 2022.
The intelligence report goes into great lengths in rattling off figures on attacks and alleged murders of Catholic priests in different areas of Nigeria, crimes which were perpertrated by bandits, Fulani herdsmen, and Biafra Independents (IPOB).
SBM Intelligence is an organization that researches, collects and analyzes data on events in Nigeria, founded in 2015 by Cheta Nwanze, an expert in information technology and media management.
The Nigerian affair rekindles questions and perplexities about the ever-increasing tendency to "quantify" and translate into numbers the situations of suffering experienced by Christians around the world, often relaunching exorbitant data with a strong media impact, in order to provide in this way a semblance of "scientific rigor" to the dissemination of data that are in reality unverifiable and often unreliable. (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides News, 25/1/2023)