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6/16/2023 Nigeria (International Christian Concern) – A Catholic priest who was ordained less than a year ago was recently shot in the back and left for dead in Nigeria. 

Rev. Charles Onomhoale Igechi died in Abuja, Nigeria on June 7. It is the latest violence against Catholic leaders in one of the deadliest places to be a Christian. Since May, three Catholic priests were abducted and later released in separate incidents. 

International Christian Concern (ICC) named Nigeria as the deadliest country for believers in its comprehensive 2021 Persecutor of the Year (POY) annual report. And the Fulani militants were named the worst persecuting entity in ICC’s 2022 POY report. More than 50,000 Christians have been killed in Nigeria over the past 20 years, and over two million have been displaced. 

In the latest incident, Igechi was allegedly “killed by gunmen, as they riddled his body with bullets after they shot him on the back,” said friend Rev. Augustine Akubeze, archbishop of the Archdiocese of Benin, in a statement. “With great shock we received the news this morning that he was shot on his way back to his place of assignment.” 

Igechi’s body was found near Boundary Street in Ikpoba Hill, Ikpoba Okha local government area in Edo state. Nigeria has more than 700 local government areas in 36 states.  

Police continue to investigate the murder and the gunmen are still at large. 

Nigeria’s Constitution prohibits religious discrimination and provides for individuals’ freedom to choose, practice, propagate, or change their religion. According to the U.S. Dept. of State’s Report on International Religious Freedom (IRF), many Christian fatalities are conducted by terrorist groups, militant Fulani herders, and criminal gangs. Many Christians believe that the government and military leaders are complicit in the ongoing persecution. 

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