Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin | RLPB 648 | Wed 08 June 2022
RLPB is published weekly to facilitate strategic intercessory prayer.

View archives at Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin (RLPB) blog.

– Owo church massacre might herald something worse on the horizon
by Elizabeth Kendal


Channels TV, 5 June 2022

TERROR: At around 11:30am on Pentecost Sunday 5 June, Fulani Muslim militants from the North attacked worshippers at St Francis Catholic Church in Owo in Ondo State, in Nigeria’s mostly Christian ethnic Yoruba South-West. They struck as the worship service was ending, detonating Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) and shooting at worshippers as they fled. According to reports, some of the terrorists were already inside, disguised as worshippers, while those outside wore military camouflage and were armed with automatic rifles. The shooting continued for about 20 minutes and, although the gunshots ‘could be heard from the nearby Methodist Church … police officers stationed close to the area failed to respond’ (CSW, 6 June). The highly organised attack left 22 worshippers dead and 56 wounded requiring hospitalisation, many in a critical condition (revised toll as of 7 June).

MOTIVE: Many view the Owo church massacre as a declaration of war against the Yoruba in general and Ondo State Governor Rotimi Akeredolu in particular. Owo is Governor Akeredolu’s hometown. A devout Christian and ethnic Yoruba man, Governor Akeredolu has been a leading advocate for restructuring, the need for state police, the anti-open grazing law (limiting the infiltration of Fulani herdsmen) and power rotation (the unwritten rule that the presidency should rotate between the mostly Muslim North and the mostly Christian South). With Nigeria’s next general elections scheduled for 25 February (federal) and 11 March (state) 2023, Nigeria is in election mode. While the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) announced its presidential candidate on 28 May, the ruling All Progressive Congress (APC) has yet to do so, although the primaries are underway in Abuja and an announcement is due Wednesday 8 June. As the Chairman of the South-West Governors’ Forum, Ondo State Governor Rotimi Akeredolu has been leading the drive for a southern candidate. The main southern contender is Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo, a Christian Yoruba man from Lagos. This issue threatens to split the APC and trigger a life-and-death struggle with Buhari’s Islamist Fulani backers.

Nigeria’s South-West,
showing Owo in Ondo State,
and Kabba and Okene in Kogi State.
(click on map to enlarge)

RESPONSIBILITY: It is very interesting and indeed quite unusual that no-one has (as yet) claimed responsibility for the Owo church massacre. Boko Haram (JAS), Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) and militant Fulani herdsmen (terrorist proxies) have all been active in neighbouring Kogi State. In fact, ISWAP has claimed responsibility for several terror attacks in Kogi recently, specifically in Yoruba towns close to the border of Ondo State, just 100km north-east of Owo. Yet ISWAP, which is believed to have cells all through the south, has not claimed responsibility for the Owo terror attack. Could it be possible that a coalition of jihadists, ethnic Fulani expansionists and corrupt Muslim officials at the highest levels of the military and the government might be working together – each maintaining deniability – to terrorise the Yoruba ahead of a campaign to retain and advance Islamist-Fulani-Northern control of Nigeria? If so, then civil war is on the horizon!

SECURITY: Nigeria’s 1999 Constitution was prepared by the military regime of General Abdulsalami Abubakar (a Hausa Muslim from the North) and decreed into being, just ahead of Nigeria’s return to democracy. Not only does the 1999 constitution abolish local police and centralise Nigeria’s police force, it also expressly bans the establishment of any other police force [see RLPB 596 (5 May 2021)]. The Owo terror attack has reignited calls for a total restructuring of Nigeria’s security apparatus. The centralisation of security makes policing incredibly difficult and inefficient, which also makes it incredibly easy for Islamist Fulani expansionists to pursue ‘their overall strategic objective of overrunning Nigeria’. These are watershed days for Nigeria!

A longer, more detailed version of this RLPB has been posted to:
Religious Liberty Monitoring, 7 June 2022.


* comfort and sustain all those who are grieving the loss of loved ones, along with those who are wounded, and those who are traumatised because of the 5 June massacre in St Francis Catholic Church, Owo. Lord have mercy!

* have his hand on Nigeria as she heads towards the 2023 elections; may the Lord’s will be done (Job 42:2); O Lord, ‘in wrath remember mercy’ (from Habakkuk 3:2). May churches across the whole nation join hearts and hands as One Body in praying for peaceful resolutions – and may the Church in the world do likewise – for the sake of the Nigerian Church and Nigeria’s 200 million precious souls.

* protect his precious Church – both the long-comfortable Church in the mostly Christian South, and the vulnerable long-persecuted Church in the mostly Muslim North. Lord have mercy! May the Lord redeem every wicked deed to awaken the lost, sanctify the Church, bolster faith and energise mission for the spread of the Gospel (Nigeria’s only hope) to the glory of God.

‘As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive…’ (Joseph to his brothers; Genesis 50:20 ESV)


On Sunday 5 June Fulani Muslim militants attacked St Francis Catholic Church in Owo in Ondo State in Nigeria’s South-West, killing 22 and leaving 56 wounded requiring hospitalisation. Many believe the Owo terror attack was a Northern-Fulani-Islamist declaration of war against the mostly Christian Yoruba of the South-West in general, and Ondo State Governor Rotimi Akeredolu in particular. A devout Christian and ethnic Yoruba man from Owo, Governor Akeredolu has been a leading advocate of power rotation: that the presidency should rotate between the mostly Muslim North and the mostly Christian South. Nigeria’s general elections are due in February and March 2023. Might a coalition of jihadists, Fulani expansionists and corrupt Muslim political and military elites be terrorising the Yoruba ahead of a campaign to retain and advance Islamist-Fulani-Northern control of Nigeria? Please pray.



Elizabeth Kendal is an international religious liberty analyst and advocate.

She has authored two books: Turn Back the Battle: Isaiah Speaks to Christians Today (Deror Books, Melbourne, Australia, Dec 2012) which offers a Biblical response to persecution and existential threat; and After Saturday Comes Sunday: Understanding the Christian Crisis in the Middle East (Wipf and Stock, Eugene, OR, USA, June 2016).

She is an Adjunct Research Fellow at the Arthur Jeffery Centre for the Study of Islam at Melbourne School of Theology and has formerly served with the World Evangelical Alliance Religious Liberty Commission and Christian Faith and Freedom (Canberra).

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This
Skip to toolbar