Christian family in Nigeria shot while praying in living room

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‘The cycle of impunity must be brought to an end’

A brutal attack on a Christian family of four in Plateau state, Nigeria.

The attack is the latest in a series of coordinated assaults on faith communities in the west Africa nation where over 350 Christian deaths have been reported since the beginning of 2020.

Pastor Bayo James Famonure, headmaster of Messiah College and leader of Calvary Mission (CAPRO) and Agape Missions was shot and injured together with his family on the evening of 5 May by armed assailants who invaded their home as they prayed in their sitting room.

According to Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW), a human rights organisation which specialises in faith freedom and works on behalf of those persecuted for their Christian beliefs, the Church leader was shot in the forehead and leg. His wife Naomi was shot in the back, and their sons Adua and Victor were shot in the feet, after which the assailants (reportedly of Fulani origin) fled the area.

CSW says in its report that the family was later carried to hospital in the Plateau state capital, where Mrs Famonure underwent surgery to remove a bullet in her back, which had fortunately missed her spinal cord and other internal organs by inches.

In addition, the bullets fired at the Pastor had not penetrated his forehead or hit the bone in his leg, CSW reports.

“It’s a miracle … Just praise God,” the pastor said, according to Hausa Christians Foundation (HAFCO).

Pastor Bayo and his wife are both reported to be “tired, but in good spirits,” and remain hospitalised, along with their son Victor. Adua Famonure was discharged, and a security detail has been posted at the family’s home.

Despite the imposition of COVID-19 related lockdowns, similar attacks on Christian communities in Nigeria have been reported elsewhere across the country.

Intersociety, a Nigerian civil society organization, revealed its recent report that over 11,000 Christians have been killed in the country since 2015 in attacks.

The organisation claimed that 100 percent of all attacks by Fulani have targeted Christians, killing about 7,400. They also said that Boko Haram mainly target and kill Christians, with 4,000 of the total 6,000 deaths at the terrorist groups hands killing Christians. The smallest group, they label as bandits, have killed or abducted about 200.

Despite the above report, the Nigerian government has continued to claim that Christians are not the main targets of any groups.

CEO of CSW Nigeria in a release condemned the appalling attack on Pastor Famonure and his family, adding “we pray for their speedy recovery.”

“The relentless campaign of violence against Christian communities in Kaduna and Plateau, which continues despite the existence of lockdowns in both states, is both perplexing and entirely unacceptable. The fact that these armed assailants are able to attack at will constitutes a security emergency, and every relevant federal and state agency should be brought to bear to ensure the investigation, arrest and prosecution of the perpetrators and their enablers. The cycle of impunity must be brought to an end. Only the presence of security and justice will prevent retaliatory violence from taking hold. The time for federal and state authorities to guarantee security, welfare and the sanctity of life of the Christian community in these areas is long overdue,” he said.