Reverend Father John Cheitnum, one of the two Catholic priests abducted in Lere Local Government Area (LGA) of Kaduna State, has been killed by his abductors.
Until his abduction and killing, the victim was the Director of Communications at the Catholic Diocese of Kafanchan, as well as the Chairman of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) In Jema’a LGA of the state.
Reverend Father Cheitnum and his colleague, Reverend Father Donatus Cleopas, were kidnapped by bandits on July 16 while they were on pastoral work at the rectory of Christ the King Catholic Church, Yadin Garu in Lere LGA.
According to a statement by the Chancellor of Kafanchan Catholic Diocese, Reverend Father Emmanuel Okolo, the decomposing body of the priest was discovered on Tuesday.
Reverend Father Cleopas, on his part, was said to have been released by the bandits after an undisclosed amount of money was paid to them as ransom.
This was contained in a statement by the Chancellor of the Catholic Diocese of Kafanchan, Rev. Fr. Emmanuel Okolo.
The statement read, “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.
“Until his demise, he was the CAN Chairman, Jama’a LGA, as well as the Coordinating Chairman of CAN, Southern Kaduna. Fr. Cheitnum 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.”
Channelstv.com reported that in recent times, Kaduna State has witnessed several kidnapping incidents, most of which were targeted at religious leaders.
In the last one year, the Catholic Church of Kaduna Diocese alone has lost three of its priests to banditry, while four others were kidnapped and only regained their freedom after ransoms were paid to their abductors.
Elsewhere, authorities in the state said security operatives have killed a notorious bandit who was part of the groups terrorising residents of Chikun LGA.
The Commissioner for Internal Security and Home Affairs in the state, Samuel Aruwan, said the security forces intercepted some criminals at Kidunu general area around Eastern By-Pass in Chikun LGA, and during an exchange of fire, one of the bandits was neutralised, while the rest escaped with gunshot injuries.
He said two AK-47 rifles, charms, and amulets, as well as two motorcycles and a mobile phone, were recovered from the bandits during the operation.