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01/20/2021 Nigeria (International Christian Concern) –  The body of father John Gbakaan was found mutilated and tied to a tree on Saturday, January 16. Father Gbakaan, with his brother and another priest, were taken captive by an unidentified group of gunmen while travelling from Benue State back to their home in Niger State on that Friday. Shortly after the kidnapping, the abductors told father Gbakaan’s diocese that they needed nearly $80,000 to release him and the two other men taken alongside him. After negotiations, they lower the ransom to $13,000. They then killed father Gbakaan and left him near the place that he was originally taken.

It is unclear what has happened to the other priest or father Gbakaan’s brother. They are likely still in captivity and may continue to be held until the ransom is paid or the kidnappers decide to just kill them.

Many clergymen are kidnapped or killed each year in Nigeria. Last January, Boko Haram murdered Rev. Lawan Andimi after taking him hostage. He reportedly refused to renounce Christ and was executed for it. Then in February, a group killed a young seminarian named Michael Nnadi who had been kidnapped alongside three others. Later in October, ISWAP released a video showing Rev. Polycarp Zongo, who they had abducted. Rev. Zongo is believed to still be in captivity at this time.

Despite all of these abductions and killings fo Christian leaders, the Nigerian government and much of the international community continue to say that there is no religious basis for the violence taking place in Nigeria. This blindness is part of the reason that Nigeria continues to rank in the top ten of Open Door’s World Watch List in 2021. Please be in prayer for the family of father Gbakaan and all of the clergy in Nigeria who are on the frontlines of spreading the Gospel.

For interviews, please contact Olivia Miller, Communications Coordinator: [email protected].