Nigeria's Christians 'fear for their lives' - Ebute

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

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

Kangoro's Father Sam Ebute told Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) that a rise in violence against Christians had left the faithful overwhelmed by fear and unable to live their everyday lives.

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

"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 caused many Christians to restrict their movements, he said, while the effect on the Christian farming community was disastrous because "they left their crops to perish."

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

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

Although the attacks were largely attributed to militant Fulani herdsmen, Fr. Ebute is disappointed that Christian communities have not been secured by the Nigerian Government.

"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.

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 in the village of Kukum Daji, the violence struck very close to home.

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."

Source: CT