30 June 2023, The Tablet

Christians killed ‘daily’ in Nigeria, says bishop

Since the start of 2022, there have been 140 attacks on Christians in Benue State, resulting in at least 591 deaths.

Christians killed ‘daily’ in Nigeria, says bishop

Burnt vehicles in the village of Ngban in Benue State, after the Good Friday attack by Islamist militants.
Courtesy of Justice, Development, and Peace Commission/CNA

Nigerian Bishop Wilfred Chikpa Anagbe of Makurdi said last week that the killing of Catholics in his country, which has grown so much in recent years, “has become a daily occurrence”.

The Diocese of Makurdi in Nigeria’s Benue State has been hit hard. He reported that on 7 April, Good Friday, dozens were killed when Muslim gunmen raided an elementary school building in the village of Ngban, which served as a shelter for about 100 displaced Christian farmers and their families.

The attack left 43 people dead and more than 40 injured but “there have been no arrests and the government is not prepared to take action about this”, said Bishop Anagbe.

Since the start of 2022, there have been 140 attacks on Christians in Benue State, resulting in at least 591 deaths, he reported. Because of these attacks, more than 1.5 million Christians in Benue have been displaced from their homes and villages.

Though the government claims that the situation has improved, groups including radicalised nomadic Fulani herdsmen and the Islamic State West Africa Province, a branch of ISIS, have increased their attacks on Christians, said Bishop Anagbe.

“We should be allowed to worship God,” he said, but “in some places you cannot even go to Mass and then you go to Mass with a lot of heavy security, within your own country, and that should not be.”

Bishop Anagbe said that leading a diocese facing such persecution has taken a deep personal toll, adding that “within three years I have lost 18 priests, some of them kidnapped and then released but some die in the process”.

One of the hardest parts, Bishop Anagbe said, is that he feels the violence has separated him from his people.

Sometimes he cannot reach them because of the danger, at other times, his people are simply no longer there. “I have lost about 13 parishes,” he reported.

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