Nigeria has had its share of insecurities which have raised concern not only in the country but in the African continent and of course the world at large. There has been loss of lives in large numbers and it is quite unfortunate that most of these killings appear to be religious attacks. Churches have been burnt down, Mosques as well and destruction of other properties too.
Nigerians have been living in fear not knowing who the next victim of these heinous acts would be. Boko Haram; a militant terrorist organization based in the northeastern part of Nigeria, has been clashing with vigilante groups, causing havoc in the parts of the country.
The most recent shocking incident has been a kidnapping of the Dean of the Anglican Church of Nigeria, Archbishop Ignatius Kattey, who was abducted on the 8th of September 2013 in River State which is one of the 36 States of Nigeria and whose Capital is Port Harcourt. His wife, Beatrice Kattey had also been kidnapped but was later abandoned in the Archbishop's vehicle after a police chase. However there is no terrorist or religious group that has come out claiming to be responsible for the said abduction or sought ransom from his family or members of the church; hence making it difficult to establish if it is indeed a religious attack.
The abduction has raised concerns not only among the members of the church but generally among most Nigerians living in the area as the number of abductions continues to rise in Nigeria. This has also raised a lot of concern around Africa and the World, as an abduction of the second most senior cleric in the Church of Nigeria is bound to send a huge message to the members of the church considering the several persecutions of Christians that have taken place in Nigeria from the Islamist group, Boko Haram.
The religious conflict that has been going on between the Muslims and Christians in Nigeria for decades cannot be ignored. Although top Police Officials are said to be working on the case to ensure that Archbishop will be secured soon, safe and unharmed, it is feared that there have been no deterrent methods so far established to deal with the rampant crimes within the country.
Church Leaders within Nigeria have called for round the clock prayer for Archbishop Ignatius Kattey's safe and unconditional release.
The East Africa Centre for Law and Justice [EACLJ] is also advocating for the release of Archbishop Kattey and appealing to the Christian community in Africa to support the people of Nigeria by engaging in prayer for the Archbishop who is still missing.
EACLJ would also like to draw the public's attention to the sense of insecurity for Christians, not only in Nigeria but also in Egypt. Reports show that nearly 15,000 Coptic Christians in Egypt are being forced to pay a tax known as 'Jizya' to the Muslim Brotherhood or risk being killed in case they do not convert. Christian families are reported to be fleeing in fear for their lives and those of their families.
According to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights Article 18, '...everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; which includes the freedom to change ones religion or belief, and freedom either alone or in community with other others and in private or public, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance..'
As EACLJ, we call upon the vigilance of National Governments and the International Community who are the guardians of freedom of worship. Overlooking such happenings will be a pave way to greater violations of the freedom of worship. Such acts should be castigated and various mechanisms should be put in place to ensure deterrence from the same. Voices of concern should be raised in the affected countries as well as the international community. There should be renewed effort to ensure that religious freedom, as envisaged in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is protected.