By Fionn Shiner and Maria Lozano

Four seminarians kidnapped in Nigeria by armed intruders have been named by a leading Catholic charity that supports persecuted Christians.

Aid to the Church in Need can, at last, reveal that the four men are Pius Kanwai, 19, Peter Umenukor, 23, Stephen Amos, 23, and 18-year-old Michael Nnadi.

They were taken on Wednesday (8th January) evening from the Good Shepherd Major Seminary in Kaduna city, northern Nigeria.

Armed assailants broke through the fence surrounding the living quarters of the seminary, forced themselves into the student hostel, and stole some of the students’ valuables before abducting the seminarians.

The four men came from different dioceses across northern Nigeria and had only just started studying for the priesthood.

The kidnappers’ identity and motive remain unknown.

Police said their quick response prevented the attackers from taking more students.

Abductions have risen sharply in Kaduna.

The Rev John Joseph Hayab, president of the Christian Association of Nigeria, said abductions in the state had become “a big business” but others are taken for religious reasons.

On December 26, 2019, Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP), an offshoot of Daesh (ISIS), released a video purporting to show 10 Christians being beheaded on Christmas Day.

Bishop Matthew Hassan Kukah of Sokoto responded by criticizing the Nigerian authorities for not doing enough to prevent the violence.

He told ACN: “The only difference between the government and Boko Haram is Boko Haram is holding a bomb.”

On 25th March 2019, Father John Bako Shekwolo, a priest of Kaduna archdiocese, was kidnapped. His whereabouts are still unknown.

Nearly two weeks earlier, Father Clement Ugwu of St Mark’s Catholic Church in Enugu state was abducted from his parish home and a few days later his decomposing corpse was found 12 miles from his home.

Leah Sharibu, abducted on 19th February 2018, is still in the custody of Boko Haram.

She was taken with 109 other girls but she alone was held back after she refused to convert to Islam.

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