THE Prime Minister’s Special Envoy for Freedom of Religion or Belief will receive a petition calling for justice on behalf of victims of a massacre carried out at a packed church in Nigeria.
The petition, organised by Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), will be handed in to Fiona Bruce MP on 5th June, the first anniversary of the attack at St Francis Xavier’s Church in Owo, south-west Nigeria.
On that day, 41 people died and more than 70 were injured during Mass on Pentecost Sunday.
Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) militants have claimed responsibility for detonating explosives and shooting worshippers during the Mass.
Nigerian authorities have, according to latest reports, failed to charge anyone in connection with the atrocity.
Margaret Attah, a survivor, who lost both legs and her sight in one eye in the attack, told ACN: “There should be justice. They haven’t told us anything about [the perpetrators].”
St Francis Xavier’s parish priest Father Michael Abugan, who moved to the church after the tragedy, said: “[The survivors] are trying to get on their feet. They are traumatised. They are wounded. They want to come to church, but many of them are still finding it difficult.
“Some of them have lost everything. The Church has come to their aid [to help them] start life again.”
Aid to the Church in Need has supported projects to help repair church buildings at St Francis Xavier’s and has provided trauma counselling for survivors.
Meantime, the local bishop, Dr Jude Arogundade of Ondo, has backed the petition and has renewed calls for people to sign it.
Bishop Jude told ACN: “The impact is both physical and psychological. So many people are afraid to practise their faith publicly.”
The petition requests the UK Government to call on its Nigerian counterparts to identify and apprehend the extremists behind the Owo massacre and many other killings and abductions of Christians in the country.
Between January 2021 and June 2022, more than 7,600 Nigerian Christians were killed and 5,200 abducted, according to the findings of the charity’s 2022 Persecuted and Forgotten? A Report on Christians oppressed for their Faith.
- To sign the ACN (UK) petition calling for justice for the victims of the massacre at St Francis Xavier’s Church, Owo, visit: https://acnuk.org/petition-2022/ The deadline for signatures is 31st May 2023.