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Seminary steps up security amid violence in Nigeria

Amid escalating violence against Catholics in northern Nigeria, one seminary is boosting its security measures, with a plan that it hopes will ensure round-the-clock safety for staff and seminarians — and could become a model for seminaries and religious houses across Nigeria.

Fr. Emmanuel Kazah Faweh, rector of Christ the King Seminary, speaks with government officials after a January fire at the seminary property.

Christ the King Major Seminary in the diocese of Kafanchan is working with local contractors to install a solar powered security system, funded largely through a grant from global NGO Aid to the Church in Need. 

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“The system, when deployed will provide 24 hour security awareness and surveillance of vulnerable locations around the institute,” according to engineer Innocent Alli of security contractor Innagrace Integrated Services , which is responsible for designing and installing the system.

Seminaries and churches in Nigeria have been attacked often in recent years, both by armed Islamic militants, and by criminal gangs focused mostly on commercial kidnappings. Both priests and seminarians have been killed amid those attacks, with even more kidnapped.

But at the seminary in Kafanchan, new measures will aim to be proactive against threats.

According to Alli, the seminary’s new security system “will help identify threat agents, their target goals, attack vectors and the resulting consequences in and around the institute.”

“Part of the project package is the provision of outdoor integrated solar street lighting and LED/LCD flood lighting systems,” he explained.

To design and build the system, Aid to the Church in Need gave this month a $64,000 grant to Christ the King Seminary and the St. Albert Institute, a graduate theology program on the seminary grounds. The Kafanchan diocese also contributed several thousand dollars to the security system’s cost.

In its 2023 report, the international charity explained that between 2018 to November 2022, it spent 8,202,188 euros to manage wide ranging projects such as giving Mass stipends, purchasing, and distributing religious books, sustaining the formation of seminarians and other humanitarian aid jobs.

Church-watchers in Nigeria have told The Pillar that ecclesiastical institutions need to improve their own security systems, because government forces have often been slow to respond to emergency calls for help against violent gangs.

In Kafanchan, a government investigation is underway after a fire earlier this month gutted a residential building at Christ the King seminary. Seminarians assisted in fighting the fire, because the seminary was regarded as too remote for emergency services to arrive in time.

But Phoebe Sukai, Commissioner for Kafanchan Municipal, said during a recent visit to the seminary that the institution will receive state support after the fire from a government emergency management agency.

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