Suspected Fulani herdsmen have killed another Catholic priest, Father John Gbakaan in Niger State.
Prior to his death, the priest was the Dean of the newly created Lapai Deanery and was also in charge of St. Anthony’s Parish Gulu in Lapai local government area of the state.
A close colleague of the deceased and priest in charge of St. Theresa Catholic Parish Madala, Father John Jatau confirmed this to Channels Television via telephone conversation on Sunday.
He said Father Gbakaan alongside his brother and another priest Thursday travelled to Makurdi in Benue state where he went to see his mother.
It was on his way back, that he and his brother were attacked by gunmen along Lambata-Lapai road. The incident took place at about 9 pm after Father Gbakaan had dropped Father Jatua at Suleja.
The attackers were said to have descended on the priest with machetes, hacking his body beyond recognition.
Father Jatau said the body of the priest was found the following day, Saturday, tied to a tree in a bush, after some vigilante members in the area raised alarm.
The Toyota Venza vehicle in which the priest was traveling was also found in the bush.
Meanwhile, the brother of the deceased was abducted and yet to be found.
According to Father Jatau, the gunmen on Saturday put a call to the Catholic Diocese in Minna, demanding for the sum of Thirty Million Naira, but later in the course of negotiation dropped the ransom to Five Million Naira.
As at the time of filing this report, negotiations were said to be ongoing, while the body of the slain priest has been deposited at the IBB Specialist Hospital mortuary in Minna.
Efforts to get the side of the police on the matter proved abortive as neither Police Public Relations Officer, ASP Abiodun Wasiu nor the Commissioner could be reached.
The Bishop of the Minna Catholic Community, His Lordship, Bishop Martin Ozuokwu could also not be reached on phone.
The killing of Father Gbakaan brings to two the number of Christian clerics killed in recent times since the renewed banditry attacks in Niger State.
In December 2020, a Christian clergy with the Evangelical Church of West Africa was killed at Chukuba village in Shiroro local government area by gunmen who invaded his farm while he was harvesting his produce.