A Catholic priest was hacked to death on Jan. 16 in central Nigeria. Just one example in a string of deaths carried out by Muslim extremists. According to religious authorities, the federal government has not responded adequately, Breitbart reported.

Rev. Father John Gbakaan went to visit his mother on Jan. 14 in Benue state, Parish priest Father John Jatau revealed. His brother and a friend accompanied him. On his way home on Jan. 15, he and his brother were abducted by armed bandits on the Lambata-Lapai road.

When the bandits found out that he was a Catholic priest, they called the Minna diocese for a ransom of $75,000, which they later reduced to $12,500.

The report does not indicate whether the ransom was finally paid.

Father John’s body was found by his colleague Father Ugochukwu Ugwoke tied to a tree and disfigured by the machete blows, which killed him. His brother is still missing.

The Rev. John Hayab, vice president of the Christian Association of Nigeria, said that the danger to Christians in the country had reached an alarming point.

“We received the news of the kidnapping and killing of our dear Father John with great shock and pain,” said Father Hayab. “Today in northern Nigeria, many people live in fear, and many young people are afraid of becoming priests or pastors because their lives are in great danger.

In 2019, the Archbishop of Kaduna, Matthew Man-oso Ndagoso, said that “Christians are killed like chickens in his region.” Kaduna is “one of the states where everybody walks around afraid. There are kidnappers and bandits, and they are killing people,” he said.

According to the report, when it comes to Muslim Fulani militants killing Christians, the federal government has not responded adequately because Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari is also a Fulani.

“In other parts of the country, if something happens, the president shows up. But here people are being killed, and nothing is being done about it,” the Archbishop added, insisting that the nation’s leaders “do not have the political will to address the issues, to enforce the provisions of the constitution regarding the equality of religions and the equality of citizens before the law.”

Two Catholic priests described Muslims’ violence against Christians as a “clear agenda to Islamize the Nigerian Middle Belt” and not as random attacks.

“They are criminals and terrorists, but they do not do the same things in the territories with a Muslim majority,” Bishop William Amove Avenya said. “We are convinced that ethnic cleansing is being carried out against Christians.”

In 2020 Nigeria was listed first among all countries where most Christians are killed for their faith.

The U.S. State Department designated Nigeria in 2020 as a “country of particular concern” for its “systematic, ongoing, egregious violations of religious freedom.”

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