Nigerian cardinal escapes injury as attacks on clergy mount

The lives of clergy are known to be difficult, but in Nigeria they are often dangerous, too.

Last week, gunmen shot at a car carrying Roman Catholic Cardinal John Onaiyekan in the country’s southern Edo state. The cardinal was returning home after attending the 10th anniversary celebrations for the Uromi Diocese. He was unharmed.

Advertisement

“The government needs to do more to make our public roads safe,” Onaiyekan wrote in an email on May 3.

The attack on the cardinal comes amid increasing violence and kidnappings of clergy for ransom in the West African country.

In March, gunmen kidnapped and later released the Rev. Emmanuel Dziggau, president of the United Churches of Christ in Nigeria. In December, Anglican Bishop Gabriel Adebanjo of central Abuja was kidnapped, along with his wife. In September 2015, Anglican Bishop Moses Tabuwaye of Gwagwalada was kidnapped and released.

And only last month, The Punch newspaper reported that the decomposing body of a cleric kidnapped in northern Nigeria in March had been found.

Onaiyekan said he believed the attackers were not targeting him personally, since they shot at other cars on the road, where many attacks were known to occur.

Catholic Bishop Donatus Ogun of the Uromi Diocese had earlier issued a similar statement, saying the people of Edo state were living in fear of the criminals and their lives and property needed to be protected.

(Fredrick Nzwili is an RNS correspondent based in Nairobi, Kenya)

Comments are automatically closed two weeks after an article's initial publication. See our comments policy for more.

Advertisement

Don't miss the best from America

Sign up for our Newsletter to get the Jesuit perspective on news, faith and culture.

The latest from america

The leaders sent a letter to President Donald Trump, administration officials and members of Congress.
Altar servers lead a Palm Sunday procession March 25 in Youtong, in China's Hebei province. (CNS photo/Damir Sagolj, Reuters)
The pope appeared to be alluding to the fact that since February there has been a crackdown by the Chinese authorities on religion in the mainland.
Gerard O’ConnellMay 23, 2018
Chilean clerical sex abuse survivors Juan Carlos Cruz, James Hamilton and Jose Andres Murillo in Rome, May 2. The three met Pope Francis individually at the Vatican April 27-29. The Vatican announced on May 22 that a second group of abuse victims will visit the pope in June (CNS photo/Paul Haring).
The encounters will take place from June 1-3 at Santa Marta, the Vatican guesthouse where Francis lives.
Gerard O’ConnellMay 22, 2018
Pope Francis talks with Cardinal Sean P. O'Malley of Boston, president of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, as they arrive for a meeting in the synod hall at the Vatican in this Feb. 13, 2015, file photo. (CNS photo/Paul Haring) 
Righteous call-outs should be patterned after Cardinal O’Malley’s rebuke of Pope Francis on sex abuse.
Simcha FisherMay 22, 2018