Seminarian in Nigeria Burned Alive in Botched Kidnapping

The perpetrators of the crime were reportedly Islamist Fulani militants.

Seminarian Na'aman Danlami died when Fulanis attacked St. Raphael Fadan Kamantan Parish on the night of Thursday, Sept. 7, 2023.
Seminarian Na'aman Danlami died when Fulanis attacked St. Raphael Fadan Kamantan Parish on the night of Thursday, Sept. 7, 2023. (photo: Courtesy photo / ACN)

A Catholic seminarian in Nigeria was killed after the rectory where he was living was set on fire in what has been confirmed as a kidnapping attempt, according to the Diocese of Kafanchan.

The perpetrators of the crime were reportedly Islamist Fulani militants.

According to Bishop Julius Yakubu Kundi of Kafanchan, seminarian Na’aman Danlami died when Fulanis attacked St. Raphael Fadan Kamantan Parish on Sept. 7 and set the rectory ablaze.

In an interview with the Catholic pontifical and charity foundation Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) International, BishopKundi said the parish priest, Father Emmanuel Okolo, and his assistant were able to escape the fire in which the 25-year-old seminarian died.

“The attackers were aiming to kidnap the parish priest. When they failed in their attempt to enter the father’s house, they set it on fire. The two priests were able to escape but the seminarian was burned inside,” ACN quoted the Nigerian Catholic bishop as saying in a report shared with ACI Africa, CNA’s news partner in Africa.

Bishop Kundi added: “The assault lasted more than an hour, but there was no reaction or support from the military forces. A kilometer away there is a checkpoint, but there was a total absence of reaction.”

A screengrab from a video shared with ACI Africa that shows the parish house at St. Raphael Fadan Kamantan Catholic Church of the Diocese of Kafanchan in flames Sept. 7, 2023. Credit: ACN

A screengrab from a video shared with ACI Africa that shows the parish house at St. Raphael Fadan Kamantan Catholic Church of the Diocese of Kafanchan in flames Sept. 7, 2023. Credit: ACN

“Nigerian citizens are unprotected. We hardly benefit from the security forces,” Bishop Kundi said.

Earlier, seminarian Danlami had been said to be missing. A priest who took a video that showed the arson said that they could not establish the whereabouts of the seminarian.

“Father Okolo and I are out of the house. It is brother Na’aman whose whereabouts we don’t know. Whether he’s there in the flames or they have taken him, or he has escaped we don’t know,” the priest said, adding that the parish had fallen under attack at about 8 p.m.

Bishop Kundi described Danlami’s death as “a terrible loss,” adding that his killing is not the first in his episcopal see, which serves Kaduna State.

“This seminarian is the second member we have lost in the diocese at the hands of terrorist attacks by Fulani bandits,” the bishop said.

He added that last year, Father John Mark Cheitnum, director of communications of the Diocese of Kafanchan, was kidnapped and brutally murdered.

“We recovered the body of Na’aman Danlami this morning and took it to the morgue,” Bishop Kundi told ACN. 

ACN condemned the murder of Danlami and the kidnapping of another seminarian in Kaduna. 

In the note shared with ACI Africa, the pontifical foundation reported on the kidnapping of seminarian Ezequiel Nuhu, taken on Sept. 7 in Kaduna.

Nuhu, ACN reported, was taken along with his father. “Nuhu is a seminarian in Abuja but had gone to southern Kaduna to spend a holiday with his family,” the charity foundation reported. 

“ACN International denounces the latest attack on the Catholic Church in Nigeria, in which a seminarian was burned to death in the Diocese of Kafanchan, as well as the kidnapping of another seminarian in southern Kaduna,” ACN said.

The Catholic charity appealed “for prayers for the repose of Na’aman Danlami and for consolation for his family and his community. It also prays for the safety and quick release of Ezekiel Nuhu.”

ACN further reported that Nigeria has been a particularly dangerous country for Catholic clergy in recent years. 

In 2022 four Catholic priests were killed in the West African country and 28 were kidnapped, the charity foundation reported, adding that in 2023, the number of members of the clergy who have been victims of kidnapping has already reached 14.

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

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