Soldiers and protesters clashed in an Anglican church in Nigeria on July 28, leaving five people hospitalized, two of whom are in serious condition.
The violent clash happened at St. John's Anglican Church in Amukpe in Southern Nigeria's Edo State in the Niger Delta. Protesters sieged the church, calling for the resignation of Rt. Rev. Blessing Erifeta, the Bishop of Sapele. Soldiers previously guarding an oil pipeline were called on by the vicar of the church to instill order as bishops had started a synod inside the church.
Protesters surrounded the church, waving their placards and even prevented some delegates to enter the church and taking part of the synod. The soldiers arrived and violently disrupted the protest; four women and one minor were hospitalized in the process.
The protesters were calling on for Archbishop Nicholas Okoh to force Bishop Erifeta to resign. They claimed that the bishop is guilty of "financial recklessness, maladministration, disrespect to elders and embark[ing] on incessant trips abroad with the diocese funds."
However, Churchill Akure, who is the secretary of the diocese, previously released a statement saying that all allegations against Bishop Erifeta are untrue.
"The cathedral has been known for so many bad reports in the past and the bishop did not give them a room to continue in such bad light through regular caution and rebuke. This is what they called insult. They keep resisting correction and are not ready to adjust. I pray God will open their eyes of understanding," Akure said in the statement, as quoted by Christian Today.
This is not the first time that members of the church protested against Bishop Erifeta as a part of the diocese. Last year in July, members of the diocesan Youth League went to St. Luke's Cathedral, a nearby church in Nigeria, before the start of a diocesan synod and locked out the clergy and congregation for several weeks.