Kaduna kidnappers are getting deadlier and more ruthless as the corpses of two of their victims were found on Saturday: a seminarian, 18 year-old Michael Nnadi and the beautiful wife of a Kaduna-based medical doctor Philip Ataga.
The bodies of Mrs Ataga and Nnadi were found dumped by the roadside, meaning they were kidnapped by the same ruthless gang, at different times and different places.
While Nnadi was kidnapped in the night of 8 January in his seminary, Mrs Ataga and her two children were kidnapped on 24 January by armed men from the family’s residence at Juji, in Chikun LGA of Kaduna state.
Her captors were said to have killed her after her family failed to meet their demand of a N150 million ransom for the deceased and two of her children who were also abducted.
“The bandits killed Mrs. Ataga, dumped her corpse and called her husband and directed him to pick the corpse at a particular location’, the Cable reported earlier on Saturday.
Her corpse was picked and deposited at the mortuary at the Barau Dikko Specialist Hospital, Kaduna. After killing her, the bandits are still reportedly making a demand of N20 million ransom for the release of the children.
Nnadi, whose body was also recovered on Saturday was one of the four students kidnapped from a Kaduna seminary.
The four students, including Pius Kanwai, 19, Peter Umenukor, 23, Stephen Amos, 23 were kidnapped from The Good Shepherd Major Seminary, Kaduna.
The gunmen, disguised in military camouflage, broke through the fence surrounding the seminarians’ living quarters and began shooting sporadically. They stole laptops and phones before kidnapping the four young men.
Rev. Fr. Joel Usman, Registrar of the Seminary, who announced the release of three of the students on Friday in Kaduna, was hopeful for the return of the fourth student.
But today, Michael Nnadi, the youngest of the four captives was found dead. The kidnappers had done their worst.
“With a very heavy heart, I wish to inform you that our dear son, Michael was murdered by the bandits on a date we cannot confirm. He and the wife of a doctor were arbitrarily separated from the group and killed. The Rector identified the corpse this afternoon,” Bishop Matthew Hassan Kukah of Sokoto, Nigeria, said in a statement released Feb. 1.
According to Catholic News Agency, the three students who were freed by the abductors, were released piece-meal. On Jan. 20, ACI Africa, CNA’s African news partner, reported that one of the abducted seminarians had been freed by his kidnappers after 10 days in captivity.
That seminarian was dumped alongside the highway with extensive injuries, which are believed to have been sustained during the kidnapping. He is now receiving medical treatment.
On Friday, 31 January, Rev. Fr. Joel Usman announced that two more of the kidnapped seminarians had been released.
At that time, it was reported that one seminarian was still at large, and was presumed to remain in captivity. That seminarian was Nnadi.
In his Feb. 1 statement, Bishop Kukah said that he had to delay the announcement of Nnadi’s death slightly until his mother could be informed.
“We have broken the news to her and I will be with her,” Kukah said Feb. 1.
“The Lord knows best. Let’s remain strong and pray for the repose of his soul,” Kukah added.
Nearly 270 seminarians live at Good Shepherd.
The seminary is located just off the Abuja-Kaduna-Zaria Express Way. According to AFP, the area is “notorious for criminal gangs kidnapping travelers for ransom.”
Schoolgirls and staff from a boarding school located near the same highway were kidnapped in October, and were later released.
In the last year, several priests and seminarians, along with pastors from other Christian denominations, have been kidnapped in Nigeria, some for ranson, and some by Islamist militants and terrorist groups.
Church leaders have called on the government to prioritize the security of its citizens.
“The security situation in Nigeria is appalling”, Thomas Heine-Geldern, executive president of ACN International, said Jan. 13. “Criminal gangs are further exploiting the chaotic situation and making matters still worse.”
He compared the situation in Nigeria to that of Iraq prior to the Islamic State’s invasion: “Already at that stage, Christians were being abducted, robbed and murdered because there was no protection by the state. This must not be allowed to happen to the Christians of Nigeria. The government must act now, before it is too late.”
For his part, Bishop Kukah urged prayer. “Please let us be calm. May God give him eternal rest,” he wrote Feb. 1.
Funeral arrangements for Nnadi have not yet been announced.