The life of a young Catholic seminarian was tragically cut short in Nigeria’s Middle Belt region when a group of Fulani Muslim raiders set ablaze a Catholic parish rectory, according to local news outlets.
Na’aman Danlami, the 25-year-old seminarian, was caught in the burning building during the assault on the evening of September 7. Two priests, Fathers Emmanuel Okolo and Monday Noah of St. Raphael’s parish, were fortunate enough to escape the inferno.
Bishop Julius Yakubu Kundi of the Kafanchan Diocese explained that the aggressors initially intended to abduct the parish priest. However, when their plan failed, they maliciously set the rectory on fire. While the two priests could flee the scene, the seminarian tragically got trapped within the burning structure.
Expressing deep grief over the loss, Bishop Kundi revealed, “We found Na’aman Danlami’s body this morning, and it has been moved to the morgue.” This incident marks the second instance of the diocese losing a member to terrorist attacks by Fulani bandits, a reference to the brutal killing of Father John Mark Cheitnum last year.
Father Williams Kaura Abba, a local priest who taught Danlami at the St. Albert Institute, related the incident to a “kidnapping spree.” He mourned, “The seminarian died of asphyxiation and suffered severe burns. May God rest the soul of this martyr.”
Bishop Kundi, in a Facebook post titled “Nothing Can Take Our Joy,” maintained resilience ahead of the feast of St. Peter Claver, the diocese’s patron saint. He encouraged his followers to remain faithful and resilient in the face of adversity.
Bishop Kundi also addressed the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria in Abuja on Sunday. He regretfully noted that the brutal murder of the Kafanchan Diocese seminarian marred the solemn event.
The bishop highlighted that this crime is one among many committed in Nigeria against individuals of various ethnicities, religions, and social classes. A report from the Christian watchdog group Open Doors in January stated that Christians in Nigeria face persecution due to an underlying agenda of enforced Islamization.
The report also noted a consistent increase in attacks by Islamic militant groups since 2015. Despite the rising violence affecting all Nigerians, particularly Christians, the government has been unable to halt this trend. Tragically, Nigeria led the world in 2022 in terms of the number of Christians killed for their faith and those abducted, sexually assaulted, forcibly married, or physically or mentally abused.