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Catholic Priest, Six Others Killed in Armed Attack at Parish of Nigeria’s Katsina Diocese

Fr Ferdinand "was shot in the head as he tried to take cover after sighting armed gunmen."

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Catholic Priest, Six Others Killed in Armed Attack at Parish of Nigeria’s Katsina Diocese

KATSINA , 31 March, 2021 / 6:30 PM (ACI Africa).-

A Catholic Priest and six others have been killed in an armed attack at a Parish of Nigeria’s Katsina Diocese, an official of the Diocese has confirmed.

In a statement shared with ACI Africa, the Chancellor of Katsina Diocese, Fr. Fidelis Phelle Akjmbul says, “I have been directed by the Apostolic Administrator, Sede Vacante, to notify you of the death of his Priest, Rev. Fr. Ferdinand Fanen Ngugban who until his death was the Assistant Priest at St. Paul Parish. Ayetwar, Katsina-Ala Local Government of Benue State.”

In the Wednesday, March 31 statement, Fr. Akjmbul recounts the events leading to the killing of Fr. Ngugban saying, “After celebrating Mass and while he prepared to leave for Chrism Mass at St. Gerard Majeila Cathedral, Katsina-Ala, to renew his priestly vows alongside his brother priests, there was pandemonium among the internally displaced persons who took refuge in the parish premises.”

“Fr Ferdinand went out to find out the cause of the confusion. He was shot in the head as he tried to take cover after sighting armed gunmen,” the Chancellor further recounts the events of Tuesday, March 30 at St. Paul Ayetwar Parish of Nigeria’s Katsina Diocese.

The body of Fr. Ngugban alongside those “of six others were recovered,” the Chancellor of Katsina Diocese further says in his statement.

Gunmen who attacked the Parish raided the Aye-Twar community and set many houses on fire, according to multiple media reports.

Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO) of Benue Command, DSP Catherine Anene, confirmed the killing of Fr. Ngugban saying, “Attack on St. Paul’s Catholic Church, Aye-Twar village, Agu centre in Kastina-Ala LGA by bandits is confirmed. Rev. Fr. Nguban Fanen lost his life during the attack.”

“The corpse has been deposited at General Hospital, Kastina-Ala while a joint operation of Police and other security agencies are on the trail of the hoodlums,” Ms. Anene added.

Ordained a Priest in 2015, the late Fr. Ngugban has served in various positions in the Diocese of Katsina including Assistant Cathedral Administrator at St. Gerard Majella Cathedral (2015-2016), St. Peter Parish Gbor-Tongov (2016-2018), and lately, at St. Paul Parish Ayetwar where he met his death March 30.

“Burial arrangements Shall be announced later,” the Chancellor of the Diocese of Katsina says in his March 31 statement, adding, “May the soul of Fr Ferdinand Fanen NGUGBAN and his companions rest in peace.”

The murder of Fr. Ngugban further raises concerns about insecurity in Africa’s most populous nation, days after a Catholic Priest of the country’s Warri Diocese was released after a weeklong captivity.

Fr. Harrison Egwuenu had been abducted by gunmen on March 15 while returning to St. George’s college Obinomba where he recently assumed the office of Principal.

Confirming the safe release of Fr. Egwuenu, the Administrator of the Sacred Heart Cathedral of Warri Diocese, Fr. Benedict Okutegbe challenged the Buhari-led government to realize its primary duty of safeguarding the lives of Nigerians.

“We demand more from our government. Not tomorrow but now! They should #Stand UP or STAND DOWN#,” Fr. Okutegbe appealed during the March 25 interview with ACI Africa.

SOURCE: ACI Africa. Published with permission.

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