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Nigeria: Kidnapped Priest Found Slain in Kaduna State

On July 18, ChristianPersecution.com reported about the abduction of Fathers John Mark Cheitnum and Donatus Cleophas. Now Fr. John has been found dead, as terrorists continue to target church leaders in Nigeria.

For information about Orthodox Christianity in Nigeria, see here.

For previous coverage of the persecution of Christians in Nigeria from ChristianPersecution.com, see here.

“Kidnapped Catholic Priest Slain in Kaduna State, Nigeria,” Morning Star News, July 15, 2022:

ABUJA, Nigeria (Morning Star News) – The body of one of two Catholic priests kidnapped on Friday (July 15) in Kaduna state, Nigeria, was recovered Tuesday morning (July 19), sources said.

The Rev. John Mark Cheitnum was director of communications of the Catholic Diocese of Kafanchan. Kidnapped at gunpoint from the parish rectory of Christ the King Catholic Church in Yalding Garu, Lere County along with the Rev. Donatus Cleopas Sulaiman, Cheitnum was killed while Sulaiman was able to escape, according to the Kafanchan diocese.

“The Rev. Fr. Donatus Cleophas escaped from his abductors and has reunited with us,” said the Rev. Emmanuel Uchechukwu Okolo, chancellor of the Catholic Diocese of Kafanchan, in a press statement. “However, it is with a deep sense of sorrow and pain that the bishop, clergy and laity of the Diocese of Kafanchan announce the gruesome murder of Very Rev. Fr. John Mark Cheitnum.”

Cheitnum served as priest at St. James Parish in Fori, Jema’a Local Government Area, according to the diocese.

The Kaduna state chairman of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), the Rev. John Joseph Hayab, said Cheitnum had served as the CAN chairman of the Jema’a Local Government Area as well Southern Kaduna CAN coordinator.

Cheitnum’s body was found in the wilderness on Tuesday morning, four area residents told Morning Star News by text message. One resident, Bitrus Defend, asked why terrorists target church leaders….

In the 2022 World Watch List of the countries where it is most difficult to be a Christian, Nigeria jumped to seventh place, its highest ranking ever, from No. 9 the previous year.

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