The Most Rev. Dr. Henry C. Ndukuba, in a lengthy address August 2 to other leaders of the Anglican Church of Nigeria, has renewed the church’s demand that the nation’s government protect the security of Christians.
“The Church demands that [the] government put high priority on the security of lives and property of citizens by providing adequate security for all citizens,” Ndukuba said. “The present state of insecurity and attacks on Christian churches, communities, and indeed the citizens of this country, is worrisome.”
Ndukuba said the church presented 10 demands before the nation’s major political parties before Nigeria’s general election, and is renewing the demands now.
The fifth of those 10 points was similar to the first: “The Church frowns at the negligent attitude of the leaders and lack of political will to enforce the rule of law. We therefore advise the government to maintain the rule of law and uphold civil rights, justice, and equity. The judiciary should be made to serve the citizens in matters of justice and equity. Decentralizing the police force and creation of state police will help to improve on security and maintenance of law and order.”
Christians are under frequent attack in Nigeria, which the CIA World Factbook reports as having a Muslim majority of 53.5 percent (Roman Catholics are 10.6%, and other Christians are 35.3%). Attacks on individual Christians and churches often are blamed on Faluni herdsmen, and Boko Haram is a terrorist presence in northern Nigeria.
The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, in its annual report for 2023, recommended that the Biden administration designate Nigeria as a “country of particular concern,” for “engaging in systematic, ongoing, and egregious violations of religious freedom, as defined by the International Religious Freedom Act.”
The archbishop elaborated on the lack of security after working his way through the church’s 10 demands.
“The trivializing of the sanctity of the lives of Nigerians in their own land is fast becoming a norm. The lives of Nigerians, irrespective of religion, tribe, class or other considerations, matter to God and to this nation. We have more than 250 ethnic groups that had existed peacefully for many centuries. The factors causing insecurity must be addressed. This will involve identifying and checking the activities of terrorism, the porous national borders, and free flow of ammunition and firearms, youth unemployment, drugs, and criminality.”
Archbishop Ndukuba’s address also touched on the church’s involvement with both Global Anglican Future Conference and the Global South Fellowship of Anglican Churches as the Anglican Communion debates same-sex marriage and related theological matters.
He reported that 22,000 Nigerians participated in a Joshua Generation Youth Mission that met in the Moshood Abiola National Stadium in Abuja on April 10-15.
“There is a serious need for mature Christians who will mentor some of our young professionals,” the archbishop said. “We also solicit your financial support and partnership in training and mentoring these young people. Our vision is that these young people will be released into the worldwide missions of the Church of God.”
Ndukuba spoke briefly about the Divine Commonwealth Conference (DIVCCON) held in 2022, which attracted 15,000 participants. “The visit and ministration of the Bishop of Guildford was very enriching,” he said. “He further strengthened the old bond between the Church of Nigeria and the Diocese of Guildford, England.” The archbishop urged bishops to prepare their people to participate in this year’s DIVCON, scheduled for November 6-10 at the National Christian Center in Ajuba.
The archbishop said the Church of Nigeria’s North American Mission (CONNAM) will continue its work as “a rescue mission to provide a safe haven for Nigerian Anglicans leaving the [Episcopal Church].”
“The Church of Nigeria is not interested in an expansionist move in America,” he said. “We only maintain a ‘pedagogical presence in America.’ We stand to encourage and enable all faithful Anglicans who share our convictions on the authority of the Scripture, faithfulness to the Lordship of Jesus Christ, and the Anglican heritage as we have received it.”
The North American Mission has “engage[d] the leadership of ACNA on some of issues of interest,” he said, but one church property in Irvington, New Jersey, remains the subject of a civil lawsuit.