Another gang attack on Nigerian bishop’s family

26 July 2007

by Pat Ashworth

THE BISHOP of Jos, Nigeria, the Rt Revd Benjamin Kwashi, was frogmarched out of his house at knifepoint and gunpoint on Tuesday, by a gang who threatened him with murder and beat up his teenage son, Rinji. They ransacked the house and stole what was initially estimated at about £3000-worth of possessions, including a laptop and mobile phones.

The gang overpowered the two security guards at the gates of the Bishop’s compound and locked up the four domestic staff. It is the second attack on the Bishop’s household in 18 months. In February 2006, in his absence from home, a gang beat up Bishop Kwashi’s wife, Gloria, and left her temporarily blinded (News, 24 February 2006).

The Bishop said on Wednesday morning: “The shock has gone, but now the reality is dawning, and we are discovering what was lost and what was destroyed. It is more than we thought — terrible. But we thank the Lord for life. I never thought that someone would negotiate my life so cheaply,” he said.

  The attack was calculated and deliberate. “They came with ladders, a hacksaw, a sledgehammer, diggers — they came to remove the door. No ordinary thief who wants to steal would collect the stuff that way.”

Bishop Kwashi said the saving of his life had been a miracle. “It simply boils down to the same thing I have always said and believed: it is not time,” he said. “It is not time.”

The attackers had been greater in number and better armed than the compound guards, he said. The state governor, whom the Bishop met earlier on Wednesday, had wept as he vowed that the Bishop’s security would be his project over the next few weeks. “I think he is going to take definite steps as the chief executive. I had already written an official complaint to the President that this is the second attempt on my life,” the Bishop said.

Bishop Kwashi, the co-ordinating bishop of the Convocation of Anglicans in North America (CANA), spoke earlier this month to 75 members of the York General Synod at a fringe meeting organised by Anglican Mainstream, “The Anglican Communion: an African perspective”. He had met many people there, said Canon Chris Sugden, who had received good wishes to pass on to the Bishop from both sides of the theological divide.

The Bishop concluded: “I am not going to stop talking or be the voice of others who cannot speak for themselves. I am not going to stop standing up for what is right. If the aim is to silence me or to cause fear, it will not happen. While I am doing that, it is for the good of the state and nation, so I demand a security explanation.”

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