A Nigerian court has granted protection to an 18-year-old Christian whose life was threatened by family members after she converted from Islam to Christianity.
Mary Olowe, not her real name, filed for a restraining order after she fled her family home with her mother after her father and brothers threatened to kill her for converting to Christianity.
A High court ordered a perpetual injunction against Olowe’s father and brothers to restrain them from “threat and attempt on the life of the applicant following her decision to change from the practice of Islam to Christianity.”
The family members were also ordered “not to breach her fundamental rights as to the choice of her religion or thoughts.”
The order was not appealed, according to Olowe’s legal representatives ADF international.
Legal Counsel Sean Nelson said he hopes the outcome of the case will help others facing similar threats because of their Christian faith: “We are relieved that Mary has found protection from these credible threats and that the court recognized her fundamental right to convert from Islam to Christianity.”
According to a recent U.S state department report on religious freedom, Nigeria has no official state religion according to its constitution. However, religion in the country is mainly split between Muslims and Christians with 2023 data from the CIA World Factbook stating just over half the 230 million population follow Islam, while 46 per cent follow Christianity.
An estimated 5,621 Christians worldwide were killed for their faith last year. Of those, 90 percent were Nigerian according to latest research from religious freedom charity Open Doors. The African country ranks number six on the charity’s list of countries where Christians suffer the most extreme persecution for their faith. Christians there face murder, abduction and sexual violence from Islamist militant groups such as Boko Haram, ISWAP and Fulani militants, which have increased their attacks over the past 8 years. In northern Nigeria – where states operate under Sharia (Islamic law) Christians face particular discrimination and exclusion, particularly if they come from a Muslim background.