As a writer, I’m getting tired of having to report yet another murder. As a cleric, the matter is even more worrisome.

Just months ago, I wrote about a Catholic Priest murdered in Nigeria by unknown gunmen (cf. ANOTHER CATHOLIC PRIEST MURDERED IN NIGERIA: MATTERS ARISING).

In that write-up, I tried to chronicle the sad event of priests getting murdered in Nigeria. The list was by no means exhaustive, as I did my best to limit it to the most recent.

Last year, precisely on the 23rd day of November 2020, I wrote an article titled: INSECURITY AND KIDNAPPING IN NIGERIA: WE’RE SITTING DUCKS!

My major point in that article was to decry the rising spate of insecurity in our beloved nation Nigeria.

Rather than get better, our situation has increasingly gotten worse. This year, precisely on 20th May, 2021, a secular bearing the name of the Communications Director of the Catholic Diocese of Sokoto, Fr. Chris Omotosho, made the rounds.

Another bad news!

In my earlier article, I had categorically stated that “our security system has always been fraught with flaws, but under Buhari, it is in tatters. Under the incumbent commander in Chief of the Armed forces of Nigeria, criminals have become so emboldened, they can abduct a bus-load of people in broad daylight, without fear of being apprehended… We all have become sitting ducks, each waiting for his/her turn; helplessly looking on as mayhem is unleashed all round.”

According to the aforementioned secular, one of the parishes in the Catholic Diocese of Sokoto, St. Vincent Ferrer Catholic Church Malunfashi, Katsina state, was attacked by unknown gunmen. Two Catholic priests were kidnapped – Frs Joe Keke, the former parish priest, now in residence, who is in his late 70s; and Fr Alphonsus Bello, the incumbent parish priest.

The next day, Friday 21st May, 2021, the body of Fr Alphonsus Bello was found (lifeless) in the farmland behind the Catechetical Traning School, Malunfashi. Fr Alphonsus Bello was a Priest of Kaduna Archdiocese, currently pastoring in the Catholic Diocese of Sokoto.

More recently, another priest has again been MURDERED in cold blood. This time a young priest of the Catholic Diocese of Abeokuta. He was only four years a priest.

In an internal memo, captioned “ABEOKUTA Grieves!” Fr Vincent Agih broke the sad news.

Rev. Fr. Luke Adeleke had been murdered by unknown gunmen on his way back from celebrating Mass in one of his outstations. As at the time of the memo, his body had been identified and taken to the Sacred Heart Hospital, Lantoro.

We cannot but continue to pray for the peaceful repose of the soul of Fr Luke Adeleke. May God rest him in peace. Amen.

While we pray, we must move away from our seemingly safe cocoons and begin speaking truth to power without fear.

We must occupy the streets in loud but peaceful protests against this failed government. No one is safe. As I said earlier, we’re sitting ducks, and we don’t know who will be next.

If you’re a writer, write. If you’re a preacher, preach. If you’re an actor, act. If you’re a musician, make music. Do whatever you do best as you condemn what our Nation has become. The message must be clear. Ring out your voices and keep screaming till something breaks.

It’s better to speak the truth and die in the process, than not speak, and still die anyway. It’s time to take back our country.

My heart goes out to the parishioners and family of Fr Luke who will have to celebrate this Christmas of 2021 in great sorrow. May God grant them fortitude to bear the great loss.

God be with us all.

Merry Christmas!

© Oselumhense Anetor, 2021.