UK government urged to act over persecution of Christians in Nigeria

(Photo: Unsplash/Ovinuchi Ejiohuo)

A petition submitted to the UK government this week is calling for more to be done to stop "genocidal attacks" on Christians in Nigeria. 

The petition by Aid to the Church in Need (ACN UK) was presented on Monday to Fiona Bruce MP, the Prime Minister's Special Envoy for Freedom of Religion or Belief, on the first anniversary of a massacre at a church in Nigeria on Pentecost Sunday 2022.

Extremists killed 41 people and injured over 80 during the attack on St Francis Xavier's Catholic Church, in Owo, south-west Nigeria on 5 June 2022. 

The Bishop of Ondo, Jude Arogundade, whose diocese covers Owo, told ACN that the perpetrators are still at large a year on from the tragedy. 

The petition says that many Nigerian Christians feel like the world "neither knows nor cares about them" and calls for action to bring the perpetrators to justice. 

"We request that the UK Government call on their Nigerian counterparts to bring to justice those responsible for genocidal attacks such as the Pentecost Sunday 2022 massacre and countless other killings, abductions and other atrocities," it reads.

"The UK Government must demand the arrest and imprisonment of terrorists, the return of lands and villages, as well as compensation for the destruction of properties and livelihoods." 

Speaking on the first anniversary of the church massacre, Bishop Arogundade said it was important "to remind the world of the evil of terrorism", adding that families affected by the tragedy "will bear the scars for a long time to come".

"This anniversary presents an opportunity for us to reflect on what we have done so far and what further we can do to relieve those who are still suffering and help them live with their grief and trauma," he said. 

He continued: "We hope all people of goodwill will join us and support us in prayers to comfort a grieving church.

"We still have so much to do to console the victims. Whatever support we get will help us to meet many of our needs."