Torbay’s MP, Kevin Foster, attended a parliamentary event where he met with Margaret Attah: a survivor of the Islamist extremist attack on St Francis Xavier’s Church in Owo, Southwest Nigeria, which took place on 5th June 2022.
The event in Parliament was held to mark Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN)’s #RedWednesday initiative. Since first being elected in 2015, Kevin Foster has regularly spoken in Parliament on issues relating to religious freedom and worked with groups which support the persecuted church.
During the event Margaret Attah and her husband Dominic gave testimony to parliamentarians about the attack which left her paralysed for life. Dominic Attah told those attending: “On Pentecost Sunday last year, every member of our parish went to church that day to celebrate. Just as Mass was finishing, and the priest said ‘go in peace the Mass is over,’ we heard the first gunshots. The bandits realised that their guns couldn’t kill people quickly enough, so they lit dynamite and threw that into the crowd. Then they saw people hiding under the sanctuary of the Altar, so they threw more dynamite there. That was the blast that caught my wife’s legs.”
Margaret Attah lost both her legs and one eye in the massacre, which saw over 40 Christians killed and more than 70 injured. ISWAP militants claimed responsibility for the atrocity, however to date no individuals have been arrested or prosecuted.
Commenting on the event and his encounter with Margaret Attah, Mr Foster stated: “Being able to attend church is something many of us take for granted, yet for many Christians around the world gathering to pray can see them targeted and killed. Meeting Margaret was inspiring, despite all she has been through her faith is still strong and her outlook positive. It is vital stories like this are heard, not only to demand justice is done and such communities are protected, but to remind ourselves the freedoms we take for granted are sadly not ones all enjoy.”
John Pontifex, Head of Press and Public Affairs at Aid to the Church in Need (UK), added: “It is for people like Margaret and Dominic that #RedWednesday exists. So, on behalf of all the people of St Francis Xavier’s Church, Owo, we appeal to all of you to get behind the RedWednesday initiative, and take whatever steps you can to call on the UK Government to demand that justice be done.”