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Abducted Kaduna Catholic Priest gruesomely murdered by bandits

…Catholic Diocese Kafanchan declares two-day mourning.

…As CAN describes state as “dangerous terrain for Christian leaders.”

by Achadu Gabriel, Kaduna

One of the Catholic priests abducted by bandits in Kaduna State last week has been reportedly gruesomely murdered, his body found decomposed.

The Catholic Diocese of Kafanchan announced the murder of Very Rev. Fr. John Mark Cheitnum in a statement on Tuesday.

In a swift reaction to the sad incident, the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) has described Kaduna State a “hostile and dangerous terrain for Christian leaders.”

The Chairman of CAN Kaduna State, Reverend John Joseph Hayab, made the remarks over the killing of one of the priests, Very Rev. Fr. John Mark Cheitnum, who, until his death, was the CAN Chairman of Jema’a Local Government Area of the state, and coordinator of CAN in Southern Kaduna.

“Kaduna State is a dangerous place to travel around and not safe for Christian leaders,” a devastated Hayab, who was short of words, said. He, however, said that they are consoled that Rev. Fr. Donatus Cleophas, who was kidnapped with him, escaped from his abductors’ captivity.

The statement, signed by Chancellor of the Catholic Diocese of Kafanchan, Rev. Fr. Emmanuel Uchechukwu Okolo, dated Tuesday, July 19, 2022, also announced the escape of Rev. Fr. Donatus Cleophas from their abductors.

“Sequel to the announcement of the two kidnapped priests from our diocese, we wish to announce that, Rev. Fr. Donatus Cleophas escaped from his abductors and has reunited with us. 

“However, it is with a deep sense of sorrow and pains that the Bishop, Clergy, Religious and Laity of the Diocese of Kafanchan announce the gruesome murder of Very Rev. Fr. John Mark Cheitnum.

“Fr. John Mark, who was abducted from the rectory of Christ the King Parish YadinGaru, Lere L.G.A of Kaduna State, was brutally killed by his abductors on the same day of his abduction, Friday 15th July, 2022,” the statement added. 

According to the statement, titled, ‘Re: kidnapped priests of the Catholic Diocese of Kafanchan,’ his corpse was later discovered already decomposing on Tuesday, 19th July, 2022.

“Until his demise, he was the CAN Chairman, Jama’a LGA as well as the Coordinating Chairman of CAN, Southern Kaduna. Fr. was the Dean of Kwoi Deanery, Director of Communications in the Diocese of Kafanchan and the Pastor of St. James Parish Fori, Jama’a LGA, Kaduna State,” it said. 

The statement further indicated that, his burial is slated for Thursday, July 21, 2022, at the Cathedral of St. Peter Kafanchan, Kaduna State, by 10am.

“As we solicit for prayers for the repose of our dear brother Priest and God’s consolation on his immediate family, we wish to humbly call on all and sundry to refrain from taking the laws into their hands. 

“The Diocese has declared a two-day mourning for peaceful repose of his soul, and may his soul and the souls of the faithful departed rest in peace; Amen,” the statement concluded.

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