Escalating Assault On The Church

Rev. Father Vitus Bogoro killed on his farm in Kaduna State, Nigeria


In the face of numerous killings of Christians and attack on churches in Nigeria under the watch of Muhammadu Buhari as President, officials of his government have had to deny at various points that the configuration and policies of his government are anti-Christian. Indeed, the government mounted a strenuous defence before the international community some months back when the same allegation gained loud refrain at the United States Congress. Among the evidence it held up as defence, the state presented Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo, who is a pastor, as Exhibit A, to prove that the government is religiously plural and, therefore, not anti-Christian.

The truth, of course, is that Nigeria has been taken over by terrorists, bandits, jihadists and criminals of all forms who now visit hapless Nigerians with terror and violence. The government has stopped short of raising its hands in surrender in the face of these ferocious acts of terrorism. Every person in Nigeria at the moment is literally on his own, with kidnappers and killers having a field day, attacking where ever their evil spirit leads them.

Killing has become too common in Nigeria in recent times, to the extent that any report of ten or twenty people killed on any particular day or instance, is no more news. Indeed, what will be news will be a day that passes by without dozens and scores being killed in the country. There are, in addition, many unrecorded and unreported cases.

In this reign of terror, the point made by government officials, that there is equal danger and threat to all lives in Nigeria, irrespective of creed or faith can be understood.

Beyond official state policy however, within the prevailing orgy of killings, kidnapping and sundry violence across the land, the incontrovertible fact is that Christianity is passing through an unprecedented horror in Nigeria, the type neither it nor any other religion has gone through under any dispensation since Nigeria came into being. To the Church in Nigeria, this is a time to watch, pray and now defend itself.

There may be terror and violence all over the place, quite alright, but there are bases to believe that there is method and purpose in the madness. The picking and killing of Christians and Christian clergymen in Kaduna and in various parts of the country, have become too pointed and regular to pass as random handiwork of rogues.

The Catholic church in particular has become the prime target in recent times. In a matter of about 24 hours last weekend, the church lost two priests, killed in their prime, in separate locations, by the euphemistically-tagged bandits. By whatever name the terrorists and murderers come, they are, without doubt, anti-Christ.

Catholic clergymen have never been known for being rich in material possession. Under normal circumstances, you will not expect to find up to N10,000 in the pocket or residence of a Reverend Father. They do not keep earthly valuables either. Over time, some of them, courtesy of their communities, have upgraded to driving SUVs, a practice that has not gone without reproof by some among the faithful. In other words, priests cannot be said to be attractive target for anyone robbing for material gain. So what else, but a drive to emasculate the Church accounts for the escalating violence and attack on Christian clergymen all over the country?

On Saturday, June 25,2022 in Kaduna, which has become the undisputed pre-eminent killing field in Nigeria, Vitus Bogoro 50, chaplain of the Catholic Community of the Kaduna State Polytechnic and chairman of the Nigerian Catholic Diocesan Priests Association, Kaduna was murdered at Prison Farm, kajama, along Kaduna – Kachia Road, Kaduna. His offence? Nothing else but that he was a priest.

Fr. Bogoro’s killing followed on the heels of the murder of Rev. Joseph Bako Aketeh, killed eight weeks after he was abducted on May 8 2022 from his pastoral residence at St. John’s Catholic Church, Kudenda, Chikun LGA of Kaduna State by the same anti-Christianity elements. The terrorists who took Fr. Bello Aketeh away before killing him first killed Mr. Luka, the security guard at the priory.

Sunday June 26 2022, a day after the killing of the priest in Kaduna, Rev.Fr. Christopher Odia 41, Administrator of St. Michael’s Catholic Church, Ikabigbo of the Catholic Diocese of Auchi was murdered early in the morning as he was preparing for Mass on Sunday morning. How better else can any group of people guaranty their place in hell? Fr. Odia also served as Principal, St. Philip Catholic Secondary School, Jattu.

These individual killing of the priests came barely twenty days after the horrendous mid-morning attack at St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church in Owo, Ondo State. The Pentecost Sunday massacre left 38 innocent worshippers dead inside the church. Federal Government’s quick pinning of the attack on elements of the Islamic State, West African Province (ISWAP) as against Fulani terrorists that were initially fingered, was scoffed at by both the Ondo State Governor, Rotimi Akeredolu and many others. Reports give the impression that Amotekun, the South West security outfit, has been left to solve the problem.

A week before the St. Francis Xavier Owo tragedy,32 worshippers were killed in an Evangelical Church Winning All (ECWA) church in Kajuru, Kaduna State. All these within barely one month. And what is presented here is just a highlight.

It may be nice to have Pastor Yemi Osinbajo around the corridors of power, but it is obvious that much more is required to prove that Christians are safe in the country. While the reality may be that government has lost substantial control of security, it must still strive to take extra measures to combat the escalating attack on Christians, priests and churches. The frequency and flow of such attacks have a way, not only of creating a bad impression about the government, but also of indicating that the attacks on churches and Christian clergymen are premeditated.