Nigerian Christians Killed, Churches Burned During Protests for Peace and Justice

Nigerians in Lagos and other communities are protesting alleged police brutality and killings by the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) and other police. The Guardian screen capture
Nigerians in Lagos and other communities are protesting alleged police brutality and killings by the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) and other police. The Guardian screen capture

NIGERIA (BP) – An untold number of evangelical Christians are likely among growing deaths in Nigeria amid violence surrounding peaceful protests against police brutality, an advocate for Christians in Nigeria told Baptist Press.

Police attacked peaceful protestors Oct. 20 at Lekki Toll Gate bridge in Lekki, Lagos. The protestors were marching against alleged longstanding police brutality and killings by Nigeria’s Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), according to news reports. The situation has fueled prayer walks and marches against economic insecurity and violence in other parts of the country, Christian Solidarity Worldwide representative Khataza Gondwe told Baptist Press Wednesday (Oct. 28).

Police confirmed seven deaths of Christians in Abuja, according to Morning Star News in a report Oct. 23. Morning Star said at least three Christians were killed in Abuja. Violent counter-protestors and “Muslim hoodlums” have also burned at least three church buildings in the capital city of Abuja and in Plateau and Kano states, Morning Star said in its report.

At least four Christians have been killed in Kano, Gondwe told Baptist Press from her office in London.

“It’s still early days to find out who has been killed,” said Gondwe, Christian Solidarity Worldwide’s Africa and Middle East team leader. “Nobody knows who has been killed in Lekki or elsewhere. The four that were killed, definitely (Christians) were killed in Kano state.”

Particularly, when the Christian Association of Nigeria sponsored prayer walks in Plateau, Kano and Kogi states Oct. 19-20, Gondwe said Muslims joined Christians in prayer because insecurity, violence and lawlessness are impacting both religious groups. But criminal gangs, referred to as “thugs,” interrupted the prayer walk in Koji and attacked Christians as they retreated to a church, violently beating several pastors. The four Christians are believed to have been killed in Kano Oct. 19.

“…We can’t really give you numbers,” Gondwe said, “particularly because this movement was across the board. There were no divisions along religious lines. There have been efforts to divide them along religious lines.”

“[I]t’s pretty unusual” for Muslims to join in prayer with Christians, Gondwe said, “but in times like this when everybody’s marching, and everybody’s marching for the same thing, it would be quite straightforward. I mean they wouldn’t all be praying to the same God, but it’s this coming together to pray because we’re all in this.

“People are pretty tired of the insecurity. Everybody’s suffering from it. Everybody’s being kidnapped. Everybody’s having to pay ransoms. Everybody’s losing people on highroads because armed robbers … are there, attacking and killing people.”

Gondwe described Kano as one of the most religiously volatile Nigerian states. The four were killed in a Christian district in the overwhelmingly Muslim Kano.

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Source: Baptist Press