Wole Ayodele in Jalingo
Less than a week after the burial of the two priests and 17 parishioners killed in Benue State last month by suspected herdsmen, another priest narrowly escaped being killed on Sunday by herdsmen who attacked the Sacred Heart Minor Seminary in Jalingo.
The herdsmen had stormed the seminary at about 1 a.m. in search of Reverend Father Cornelius Koba who they claimed had been preventing them from grazing their cattle at the schoolâ€™s premises.
When they eventually got hold of Koba, who was one among the three priests in the seminary, one of the herdsmen attempted to shoot him in the head but was saved by another herder who insisted that the priest should not be killed.
But after being warned to desist from preventing them from grazing their cattle in the school, one of the herdsmen turned round and shot Koba in the leg as they were about to leave.
Narrating his ordeal, Koba told journalists who visited him where he was treated that the attackers had stormed the seminary and headed to his room where he was attacked.
â€œThey came around 1 a.m. and got a student whom they ordered to take them to my room. I came out and met them all armed numbering over five. As soon I came out, one of them said: â€˜See him, kill him,â€™ but one of them objected.
â€œThey struck me with their sticks and when I fell down, one of them shot me in the leg and they left. They also shot and blew up the windscreen of my car. One of them opened fire at my window and destroyed my television set and other property.
â€œMy offence is that I often ask them to stop invading our school for grazing and stop cutting down our trees to feed their cows.â€
Reacting, the Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Jalingo, The Most Reverend Dr. Charles Hammawa Hammawa, condemned the attack and ordered the temporary closure of the seminary.
Hammawa described the attack as regrettable, saying the incident was an indication that the security situation in the country had gone extremely bad, just as he urged the government to be more serious in handling security issues in the country.
According to him, â€œIt is regrettable that as a church, we are only modelling the children to be good citizens of the country. But we are now being attacked unprovoked.
â€œWe thank God no life was lost in the incident, though my priest Reverend Father Cornelius Koba was shot in the leg. This is one attack too many. Father Koba only told the Fulani herdsmen to stop grazing on the school premises and they came after him in the dead of the night.
â€œFor the Fulani herdsmen to attack us in Jalingo is an indication that the security situation in this country has become extremely bad. The primary responsibility of government is the protection of lives and property and we will continue to call on the government to sit up.â€