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Fiona Bruce Nigeria.PNG
Fiona Bruce Nigeria.PNG
World News

UK authorities urged to call on Nigerian counterparts to act on Christian atrocities

by Kelly Valencia

Religious freedom charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) is urging the government to engage with its Nigerian counterparts in order to bring justice to the victims of terrorism.

On Monday, marking the first anniversary of the Owo Massacre, the charity presented a petition to Fiona Bruce, the Prime Minister’s Special Envoy for Freedom of Religion or Belief, demanding immediate action.

On June 5th, 2021, militants from the Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) detonated explosives and opened fire on worshippers attending a Pentecost Sunday mass at St Francis Xavier’s Church in Owo, located in southwest Nigeria.

The attack claimed the lives of 40 churchgoers and left over 70 others injured. It was the first time a Christian church had been attacked so far south in Nigeria, as attacks of this nature are typically concentrated in the nation's middle belt.

The local bishop, Dr Jude Arogundade of Ondo, has expressed support for the petition and has called on people to sign it. He told ACN:"The impact is both physical and psychological. So many people are afraid to openly practice their faith."

Speaking to Premier, Amy Balog from ACN said the community is hopeful the recent change of government will bring justice to this case.

“This is a very recent change but we are very hopeful. The new president's wife is Christian and various Christian leaders in Nigeria have endorsed him. So we really are very hopeful that this will be a positive change for the Christian community and that something will happen finally to bring these people to justice.”

The petition requests that the UK Government urge its Nigerian counterparts to identify and apprehend the extremists responsible for the Owo massacre, as well as numerous other killings and abductions of Christians in the country.

According to the findings of ACN's 2022 report titled "Persecuted and Forgotten? A Report on Christians oppressed for their Faith," between January 2021 and June 2022, over 7,600 Nigerian Christians were killed, and 5,200 were abducted.

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