Nigerian Christians face increasing attacks from occult groups

The facade of the Holy Cross Cathedral in Lagos Island, Lagos, Nigeria. | Wikimedia Commons/Kelechinaba

Apart from attacks from Fulani herdsmen and Islamic extremist group Boko Haram, Christians in Nigeria are also facing increasing threats and attacks from occult groups that are targeting churches at night.

Occult groups have reportedly killed several Christians in Nigeria's Lagos state in recent weeks, prompting the authorities in Lagos city to ban nighttime worship services.

On Nov. 26, Pastor Victor Kanayo of the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG) was killed by suspected members of an occult group called Badoo, which is known for carrying out serial ritual killings rooted in the methods of its founder.

According to Morning Star News, the pastor was killed in Offin, Igbogbo, a suburb of Ikorodu town in Lagos state, while his wife and 10-month old child were seriously wounded. The attack reportedly took place in the early morning as the family slept.

Lagos State Police spokesman Chike Oti confirmed the attack on the pastor and his family, and said that the police have made "a couple of arrests, and suspects are being questioned with a view to discover the author of the heinous crime."

A week before the murder of the pastor, suspected members of the group had reportedly killed a woman named Iyabo Alaba and her two children, aged 4 and 8, at the Celestial Church of Christ in Lagos city.

Adesina Idowu, a member of the Celestial Church of Christ, told Morning Star News that the victims lived in the church building.

The Lagos State Police Command confirmed the murder of the three family members and noted that the attack occurred while Alaba's husband was away traveling.

In light of the attacks, the authorities banned nighttime worship services in the city and said that only churches with their own security arrangement will be allowed to hold night vigils, which are common in Nigeria.

Commissioner of Police in Lagos Imohimi Edgal announced on Nov. 27 that any pastor who was caught organizing church vigils without adequate security will face murder charges, should there be attacks resulting in the killing of parishioners.

"Henceforth, no pastor should organize a vigil in Ikorodu without adequate security arrangement. Do not organize any vigil if you cannot protect the lives of the people who attend," Edgal said.

"All churches should not have vigil in isolated locations, and if you must have night vigils, you must put in place structures to protect your worshippers. If I hear that anybody is murdered in any church, I will arrest the pastor and charge them to court for murder," the commissioner added.

Edgal said that most attacks by occult groups were directed at churches during nighttime worship services. The commissioner further noted that three-quarters of the attacks in Ikorodu targeted a church member, a pastor, or their relatives.

Nigeria is ranked in the Open Doors World Watch List as the 12th country were Christians face the worst persecution.

According to Open Doors, Boko Haram has been responsible for much of the violence against Nigeria's Christians in recent years. In the Middle-belt region, Christians are facing attacks from Hausa-Fulani Muslim herdsmen, but the government seems to be reluctant to stop the assaults.