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Nigeria: Killing and Abduction of Christians

Volume 729: debated on Thursday 9 March 2023

9. Whether representatives of the Church of England have had recent discussions with the Church of Nigeria on taking steps to help tackle the killing and abduction of Christians in that country. (903967)

The murder and abduction of Christians in Nigeria is distressingly common, totally abhorrent and has gone on for far too long. The Bishop of Guildford was in Nigeria last November to support the Church of Nigeria, and the Archbishop of Canterbury, who knows Nigeria well, stays constantly in touch with the situation there.

I thank my hon. Friend for that answer. Clearly, the recent election in Nigeria has led to a complete spike in terms of violence, particularly towards Christians. What attempts are being made by the Church to reach out to Christians in Nigeria to assure them of our support, and to the victors of the election to make sure that they safeguard Christians in that country?

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for bringing that matter before the House. He is right to do so. I know that the Church of England and the Anglican communion will do exactly what he says. It is worth putting on the record that, even before the elections, 21 Christians were killed, and churches, houses and food were destroyed. In November last year, female students at the state university were raped in Bokkos and in January Catholic priest Isaac Achi was burned to death and another priest was shot and injured in Paikoro. Open Doors believes that Nigeria has the highest recorded level of violence against Christians in any country.

Of course, violent Islamist militants are not the only threat to Christians in Nigeria. The so-called motorbike bandits that operate in the border areas are abducting women and causing all kinds of violence. In the middle belt, Christian farmers face mass displacement and murder. It is not just about sending solidarity through the Church of England to Christians in Nigeria. What more can the Church of England do to influence the British Government and the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office to do more to assist Nigeria in defeating those militants who are persecuting Christians?

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for his interest in this matter, which needs as much attention as we can give it. The Government are actively implementing the Bishop of Truro’s recommendation that the Church of England checks regularly with the Government that all those implementations are being put into place. He is right to mention that. It is ongoing work, incredibly serious, and we need to keep focusing on it.