Catholic diocese: Pray for abducted priest believed to be in hands of Boko Haram

Fr. Elijah Juma Wada was abducted on June 30, 2021, in Nigeria’s Maiduguri diocese. / Courtesy photo.

Maiduguri, Nigeria, Jul 7, 2021 / 03:03 am (CNA).

A Catholic diocese in Nigeria asked Tuesday for prayers for a priest abducted by suspected members of the Boko Haram terrorist group.

“Kindly join us in praying for the quick and safe release of Rev. Fr. Elijah Juma Wada, who was abducted by suspected members of Boko Haram sect along Damboa Maiduguri road in Borno State on Wednesday, June 30,” Fr. John Bakeni told ACI Africa, CNA’s African news partner, on July 6.

Bakeni, the diocesan secretary of the Diocese of Maiduguri in northeastern Nigeria, said that Juma had left St. Paul Catholic Buma Parish, where he serves as pastor, the day before the kidnapping.

“He spent the night in Biu Local Government Area before proceeding on his journey the following day (Wednesday, June 30) along Biu-Damaturu when he was abducted,” he explained.

He added that there had been no official communication with the priest’s kidnappers.

Juma’s abduction is the latest in a series of kidnappings in Nigeria that appear to target Christians, including priests.

The West African nation has been experiencing insecurity since 2009, when the Boko Haram insurgency began with the aim of turning the country into an Islamic state.

Since then, Boko Haram, one of largest Islamist groups in Africa, has been orchestrating attacks on various targets, including religious and political groups as well as civilians.

Insecurity has been heightened by the actions of predominantly Muslim Fulani herdsmen, also known as the Fulani Militia, who have been clashing frequently with Christian farmers over grazing land.

Nigeria’s Catholic bishops have called repeatedly on the government to restore security.

In February, members of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria said: “Insecurity, clearly evident in widespread loss of lives and property, has left the impression that the country’s leaders are either unable – or worse still, unwilling – to take up the responsibilities of their office.”

They appealed for “a formal meeting of statesmen and women across the board for us to think through the challenges that seem poised to push us into the abyss.”

A version of this story was first published by ACI Africa, CNA’s African news partner, written by Jude Atemanke. It has been adapted by CNA.