Targets On Their Backs

News: Video Reports
by Kristine Christlieb  •  •  May 26, 2021   

Nigerian priests in the crosshairs

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Violence against Christians, especially Catholics, appears to be ramping up in northern Nigeria.

On Monday, May 17, 11 people were kidnapped, including one priest. Eight of them were killed.

Two days later, on Wednesday, May 19, bandits attacked an Assemblies of God church, killing eight people.

Then on Friday, May 21, two priests were kidnapped. The following morning, the body of 33-year-old Fr. Alphonsus Bello was found in a field behind the local catechetical training school, sending a clear message to local Catholics. Seventy-five-year-old Fr. Joe Keke is still missing.

Rev. Fr. Boniface Akara: "The government of Nigeria ... most of their leaders, their president ... are all Muslims, and so because of that, they have the Muslims to fight the Christians because they want to take over Nigeria."

Nigerian Catholics are living in a Muslim-governed country that ranked third on the 2020 global terrorism index.

Rev. Fr. Akara: "Because Catholic is the voice of the people of Nigeria. The Catholic Church, the priest, the bishop, they are the voice of the poor, the voice of the people; they are for the rebel in Nigeria. They believe that if they can kill priests and bishops and burn down Catholic churches, then Christians will not have power."

This is the country where terrorist organization Boko Haram kidnapped 276 schoolgirls in 2014.

Akara says the only stability in Nigeria is the Catholic Church.

Rev. Fr. Akara: "The place we call Igbo tribe ... Igbo tribe ... and my tribe — I'm from Efik — because the Igbos and the Efik are 90% Catholic, and so we are still keeping and maintaining our culture."

Christians living in some African countries are subjected to constant harassment.

In Sudan, the conflict between Muslims in the north and Christians in the south resulted in partitioning the country in two. 

The same dynamic between north and south — Christians and Muslims — is playing out in Nigeria. 

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