Nigerian Priests Protest Over Murder of Fellow Cleric

The Enugu diocese said that Father Offu was killed “by some hoodlums suspected to be the notorious and murderous Fulani herdsmen.”

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ENUGU — Priests of southeastern Nigeria's Diocese of Enugu protested Friday government inaction in the face of widespread violence. Father Paul Offu, a priest of the diocese, had been murdered the previous day.

Offu was shot to death Aug. 1 in the Awgu local government area, about 20 miles south of Enugu.

He was from Enugu state, and had been the pastor of St. James the Greater parish in Ugbawka.

The Enugu diocese wrote on Facebook that Offu was killed “by some hoodlums suspected to be the notorious and murderous Fulani herdsmen.”

Ebere Amaraizu, a public relations officers for Enugu police, said Aug. 2 that those responsible for the death were yet to be identified, according to the Daily Trust. The Nigerian outlet also indicated that Amaraizu indicated that the Fulani should not be blamed for the death before those responsible were apprehended.

Father Benjamin Achi, communications director for the Enugu diocese, told The Punch that “Fr. Offu was stopped by the murderous herdsmen while returning to his parish after a visit to priest friend.”

“They dragged him to the bush but one of the assailants said kill him that the church would not do anything if they kidnapped him,” Achi said, according to The Punch.

Priests of the Enugu diocese protested Offu's death, marching Aug. 2 to the Enugu State Government House and police headquarters urging that officials do more to defend residents.

Violence against Christians has significantly increased in Nigeria in recent years, with the radical Islamist group Boko Haram threatening safety in the north, and smaller violent gangs threatening security in the south.

Fulani herders, most of whom are Muslim, have had increasing conflict with largely Christian farmers over limited natural resources in recent years.