THE rate of attack on worship centres leading to death has again been brought to the fore with the recent attack on Saint Francis Catholic Church, Owo, Ondo state, on June 5, 2022.
No fewer than 40 worshipers died in the attack.
The data suggest that two hundred and eighty-nine (289) people have died in Nigeria due to attacks on worship centres in the last eighteen months.
The data obtained from the Council on Foreign Relations’ Nigeria Security Tracker (NST) – a website that tracks violent incidents related to political, economic, and social grievances directed at the state or other affiliated groups – covers January 2021 to June 20, 2022.
Seventy-seven (77) attacks on worship places within this period resulted in 289 fatalities.
The data shows 12 attacks on mosques and 65 incidents on Churches across the country.
During this period, 45 people were killed in attacks on Mosques within the country, while 244 were killed in attacks on churches nationwide.
Also, on February 3, 2022, gunmen stormed a church in Ihiala, Anambra state killing a couple and their daughter.
In another incident, Some gunmen on Sunday, October 31, 2021, invaded the Baptist Church, Kakau Daji, in Chikun Local Government Area of Kaduna State, killing two while scores were abducted.
On February 14, 2021, gunmen stormed a church and killed a Police officer in Ughelli North, Delta state.
Gunmen also attacked a Catholic and Baptist church in Kaduna on Sunday, June 19, 2022, killing three people, injuring two, and abducting dozens of others.
Attacks on Mosques were also noticeable during this period.
Sixteen (16) people were killed in one attack when gunmen attacked a Mosque Mashegu, Niger state, on December 8, 2021.
In another attack, bandits also killed three worshippers when a Mosque was attacked in Taraba.
Also, a district head in Taraba was killed, and seven persons were abducted when gunmen attacked a Mosque in April 2022.
In October 2021, gunmen killed 16 worshippers at a mosque in Niger state.
Scores of gunmen on motorcycles stormed Maza-Kuka village in the Mashegu district of Niger state and opened fire during morning prayers.
Nigeria is witnessing attacks by armed gangs even as general elections draw closer. The outgoing President Muhammadu Buhari promised to improve security when he was voted in seven years ago, however, the spate of insecurity is still making headlines.
According to the UK-based human rights foundation, Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW), Nigeria’s Kaduna state, where the most recent church attacks took place, has become “an epicentre of kidnapping and violence by non-state actors, despite being the most garrisoned state in Nigeria.”
In April 2022, the Department of State Services (DSS) warned of a plot by criminal elements to launch bomb attacks on worship and relaxation centres in parts of the country.
The DSS, in the statement by its spokesperson Peter Afunanya, said it uncovered a plot by suspected criminal gangs to launch the attacks during and after the coming holidays and festive celebrations.
The agency advised owners and managers of public places to be wary of the development and implement basic security measures to deter the threats.