Original Research - Special Collection: Africa Platform for NT Scholars

Exploring the reasons for perennial attacks on churches in Nigeria through the victims’ perspective

Enweonwu O. Anthony, Cletus O. Obasi, Deborah O. Obi, Benjamin O. Ajah, Okpanoch S. Okpan, Chukwuemeka D. Onyejegbu, Aloysius C. Obiwulu, Emeka M. Onwuama
HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies | Vol 77, No 1 | a6207 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/hts.v77i1.6207 | © 2021 Enweonwu O. Anthony, Cletus O. Obasi, Deborah O. Obi, Benjamin O. Ajah, Okpanocha S. Okpan, Chukwuemeka D. Onyejegbu, Aloysius C. Obiwulu, Emeka M. Onwuama | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 18 June 2020 | Published: 29 March 2021

About the author(s)

Enweonwu O. Anthony, Humanities Unit, School of General Studies, University of Nigeria, Enugu, Nigeria; and, Department of New Testament and Related Literature, Faculty of Theology and Religion, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa
Cletus O. Obasi, Department of Religion and Cultural Studies, University of Nigeria, Nsukka, Nigeria; and, Department of New Testament and Related Literature, Faculty of Theology and Religion, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa
Deborah O. Obi, School of General Studies, University of Nigeria, Enugu, Nigeria; and, Department of New Testament and Related Literature, Faculty of Theology and Religion, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa
Benjamin O. Ajah, School of General Studies, University of Nigeria, Enugu, Nigeria; and, Department of New Testament and Related Literature, Faculty of Theology and Religion, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa
Okpanoch S. Okpan, Deptment of Sociology and Anthropology, Evangel University, Akaeze, Nigeria; and, Department of New Testament and Related Literature, Faculty of Theology and Religion, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa
Chukwuemeka D. Onyejegbu, Social Sciences Unit, School of General Studies, University of Nigeria, Nsukka, Nigeria; and, Department of New Testament and Related Literature, Faculty of Theology and Religion, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa
Aloysius C. Obiwulu, Humanities Unit, School of General Studies, University of Nigeria, Nsukka, Nigeria; and, Department of New Testament and Related Literature, Faculty of Theology and Religion, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa
Emeka M. Onwuama, Humanities Unit, School of General Studies, University of Nigeria, Nsukka, Nigeria; and, Department of New Testament and Related Literature, Faculty of Theology and Religion, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa


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Abstract

Although there are several provisions within the Nigerian legal framework that, however, address the issue of church attack, the state capacity to implement effective constitutional sanctioning on perpetrators of this heinous crime has always been found wanting or completely absent, leading to countless religious attacks on churches with seeming state consent. This study employs semi-structured interviews to draw data from affected families from Benue and Enugu States, Nigeria. The article explored their experiences. The study participants were recruited through snowball sampling technique, and data were analysed thematically. The respondents stated that church killings or killing of Christians is rising because of the fact that perpetrators stand lower risk of detection and apprehension than other crimes. Also respondents interrogated that justification for the crime is land acquisition and religious intolerance. On the persistence of the challenge, all the 13 respondents stated that the crime seems to have state approval that has made it seemly impossible to tackle. The article calls for continuous inter-religious dialogue and intentional governmental responsibility in protecting lives of all persons living within the geographical enclave of Nigeria which is necessary for the common good. Closer understanding of other faiths and religions will help build bridges of peace and tolerance. The article also calls for the need to promote African traditional values, such as the value of sacredness of life, human respect and good neighbourliness.

Contribution: This study initiated the discussions that will help the public understand the reason for continuous church attacks in Nigeria, what church crime connotes in the Nigerian context and its uniqueness from other crimes. These discussions sit quite well within the transdisciplinary religious perspective of this journal.


Keywords

Christianity; sanctuary killings; victims; church; violent crime

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