Nigeria has lost scores of men, women, children, and youth to brutal attacks by terrorists in the last decade. The terrorists have not only killed people but has injured tens of thousands of Nigerian citizens who may no longer pursue their dreams. This cowardly attack recently targeted a Catholic Church in Owo, Ondo State, Nigeria and brought immense grief onto the families of the lost victims, civil society communities, and the entire nation. As we mourn our loved ones, we want those who committed this atrocity to know that no force can stand against freedom to practice any religion and other gains we as Nigerians have had during the last decade in beginning to awaken to our need to live without intimidation by any group. 

As a citizen of Nigeria, a Catholic Nun, and an advocate for a just society, I condemn this cowardly and inhumane attack at this church/other churches and demand that the Government of Nigeria take immediate action to protect our democratic values and the safety of our people. In addition, I share my deepest condolences and sympathy with the families of the victims of this event, and the entire Owo community of Ondo, Nigeria. We wish heavenly peace for the martyrs and health and recovery for those injured.

And as the 2023 Presidential Election drumbeats, I beg Nigerian men, women, and youths to remember our many brothers and sisters who have become refugees in their own country due to displacement by terrorists operating in Northern Nigeria, I beg you especially the Youths to remember the blood of your friends shed at the Lekki Toll gate, Lagos.  I beg you Nigerians to remember that the cold war being presently fought in Nigeria is between the elite politicians and the poor Nigerians with no voice, and not about tribe and religion.

My Northern brothers and sisters remember that after decades of the elite in your region hijacking governance, you have vastly remained the poorest, underdeveloped, and uneducated region in Nigeria. I know this because I have worked in the North. So, I ask all Nigerians especially Nigerian youths to Rise up say no to short-lived handouts and VOTE for your unborn children, VOTE out insecurity, unemployment that drives all forms of criminality including terrorism. VOTE stable economy and sustainable peace borne out of justice, unity in diversity, equality, and inclusion. You have all it takes to renew the face of Nigeria with your VOTE if you have integrity and fear of God for your unborn children.

Sr. Nkechinyerem Iwuoha, PHJC is a member of the Board of Directors of the Africa Faith and Justice Network.