Nigeria's Christians 'fear for their lives'

Published 23 September 2020  |  
(Photo: Aid to the Church in Need)
Fr Sam Ebute.

Christians in Nigeria are living in constant fear of the next deadly attack, a priest in the country has said.

Father Sam Ebute, of Kangoro, told Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) that a surge of violence against Christians had left the faithful there paralysed by fear and unable to go about their daily lives.

Although it is farming season, he said Christian farmers were too afraid to even visit their farms for fear of being attacked.

"For the past seven weeks, we have been burying our parishioners with no end in sight," he said.

"These last attacks have left us all in fear and especially the fear of the unknown because we do not know when the next round of attacks will happen and what will trigger it.

"We cannot worship in peace. We have no confidence in the safety of our homes."

The constant threat of attacks has caused many Christians to limit their movements, he said, while the impact on the Christian farming community has been devastating as "they have left their crops to perish".

"It is like we have been left to perish because of our faith," Fr Ebute said.

According to ACN, the number of people killed in deadly attacks in Kaduna State reached 178 in the first seven months of this year.

While the attacks have been largely attributed to militant Fulani herdsmen, Fr Ebute is frustrated that the Nigerian government has failed to protect Christian communities.

"What makes all of this even more difficult is the fact that the government doesn't take decisive measures to curb the menace. This is the most devastating and frustrating thing to fathom," he said.

The violence has hit very close to home for Fr Ebute, Director of Vocations for the Society of African Missions, who buried 21 of his own parishioners after they were killed in a gun attack on Kukum Daji village.

Many of the victims were young people, "mostly girls", he said.

"For four years, since I became a priest in 2016, I have been burying my parishioners," he said.

Bishops of Kaduna Province said in a statement to ACN that Nigeria was "in the firm grip of the grim reaper".

"Dark clouds of violence have enveloped our land," they said.

"In the last few years, the purveyors of this violence have taken over the land and placed our security forces on the defensive.

"In the last three years, we have witnessed the relentless attacks and ransacking of entire communities.

"Thousands of lives have been lost to these bandits who have operated with relentless abandon."

They added: "The ravages of Boko Haram, the herdsmen, kidnappers and the bandits have turned everyone into a victim."

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