Emerka Merenu

An Anglican priest in Nigeria was murdered this morning, allegedly by militants belonging to the armed wing of the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB.

Press reports from Nigeria state the Imo State Police Commissioner has confirmed the Rev. Emeka Merenu, the priest in charge of St Andrew’s Anglican Church in Ihitte-Ikwa, in the Orsu Local Government Area of Imo State, was shot and stabbed to death in the early hours of Tuesday morning, 14 September 2021, after terrorists drove into the church compound and entered the parsonage. 

The priest’s car was set ablaze by purported members of the Eastern Security Network (ESN), who sprayed bullets in the air, witnesses state, as they sped away.

Last month IPOB ordered residents of Nigeria’s Southeastern states, a largely Igbo-populated region, to stay at home every Monday until their leader, Nnamdi Kanu, was released from prison. In 2017 Kanu fled abroad while on bail from treason charges for calling for an independent Biafra. In circumstnaces that remain unclear, he was allegedly kidnapped by the Nigerian security services and returned to the country.

In July IPOB spokesman Comrade Emma Powerful (a pseudonym) charged the Archbishop of Enugu, the Most Rev. Emmanuel Chukwuma, with treason for betraying the Biafran people. The separatist group said the archbishop and powerful businessmen and traditional Igbo leaders had betrayed the cause of independence by their support of the Federal government. The archbishop has denied involvement in the Kanu’s abduction from abroad.

Igbos have claimed since the end of the civil war the Muslim-dominated Federal government has discriminated against them — using the natural resources and wealth from the Southeast to enrich the North. Others also believe there is a Fulani-Muslim “plot” to Islamize Nigeria with the acquiescence of the government of President Mohamadu Buhari.

Support for the first stay at home Monday — 9 August 2021 — was widespread, with commercial activity coming to a standstill in Enugu and Abakaliki. Support for the stay at home order is reported not to be strong in non-Igbo areas.

Speculation on reasons for the murder of Fr. Merenu focuses on allowing students to sit for their WASSCE (West African Senior School Certificate Examinations) that governs admission to secondary schools, at his parish school on a Monday.