Nigerian Priest Escapes Murder Attempt Unharmed After Gunmen Open Fire on His Car

A priest in the Enugu state of Nigeria escaped a murder attempt at the hands of gunmen who shot up his car just weeks after the killing of another priest led to a massive demonstration for security in the state. 

The Rev. Chimezie Ani told Morning Star News that he was driving near the Roman Catholic Caritas University in Amorji-Nike in the Enugu state last Thursday when he was attacked by men he said were radical Fulani herdsmen. The perpetrators were described as “unidentified gunmen” in media reports.

“I was driving when suddenly the herdsmen, who were armed, shot at my vehicle, aiming at the windshield,” Ani told the nonprofit news service devoted to reporting on the persecution of Christians.

Ani said he put the car in reverse as fast as he could upon noticing the gunmen in hopes of driving away unscathed.

“The bullets from them broke my windshield and riddled the car all over,” Ani was quoted as describing. “I miraculously escaped unhurt. They retreated into the bushes after realizing I escaped from them.”

Ani said he was on his way to Ugwuomu. He explained that there have been herdsmen attacking Christian communities along the stretch of highway for “some time now.”

He stressed that he was “sure” that the men he saw “were herdsmen.” Fulani herdsmen are from nomadic herding communities that have historically had land conflicts with Christian farming communities in southern Nigeria.

But in recent years, Christian advocates say the severity and number of deadly attacks launched by radical Fulani against farming communities have increased. Such attacks have seen dozens of homes and buildings burned, leaving thousands of people dead and Christian farming communities homeless.

The alleged attack against Ani follows the death of the Rev. Paul Offu, another priest in the Enugu Diocese, who was killed in early August by gunmen who were also suspected of being Fulani radicals.

Offu’s funeral, which was held earlier this week, was attended by the Enugu state Gov. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi. Offu was the priest at St. James parish in Nkanu East local government area.

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SOURCE: Christian Post, Samuel Smith