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Church of Nigeria Bishop leads violent sectarian mob attacking Anglican Church in New Jersey

Church of Nigeria Bishop leads violent sectarian mob attacking Anglican Church in New Jersey

Bishop Augustine assaulting a member of Christ Anglican Church with his Bishop's staff -- PHOTO

December 10, 2022

IRVINGTON, NJ: What began as a joyful church service celebrating
baptisms and confirmations at Christ Anglican Church, a member of the
Anglican Church in North America, ended in heartbreak as violence
erupted and the church was attacked on Sunday, December 4, 2022 by an
angry mob led by Church of Nigeria (CoN) Bishop Dr. Augustine Unigbe
who attempted to illegally seize the church.

Christ Anglican Church is a member of the Anglican Diocese of the
Rocky Mountains. Bishop Ken Ross, Bishop of the Anglican Diocese of
the Rocky Mountains, was leading the worship service when CoN Bishop
Dr. Augustine Unigbe, who is also a medical doctor in New Jersey, and a
group of 14 CoN members forced their way into the church attempting
to illegally seize the church property. Bishop Unigbe stormed the
platform yelling "I have come to take over the church and shut this
service down."

In a video obtained by the Anglican Office for Government &
International Affairs, Bishop Unigbe is clearly seen pushing and shoving
church members and at one point to raise his Bishop's staff, striking a
church member trying to stop the illegal trespassing.

The video shows the violent mob continuing to illegally trespass and
attempting to move past law enforcement and church officials. The
video also shows that, despite multiple requests from law enforcement
officers who were already on the scene, Bishop Unigbe and 14 of his
followers refused to obey lawful police orders to leave the church.


Eventually the mod was dispersed and the trespassers were forced by
police to vacate the premises.

Bishop Derek Jones, Chairman of the AOGIA responded by saying "This is
such a tragic, deeply tragic incident.

As videos on social media show, Bishop Unigbe had many opportunities to prevent the
violence, but he chose instead to lead and participate in it, even striking at least
one parishioner. It is heartbreaking to see people behave in such manner. This
should, and will be, prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law, I am sure."

Complicating the issue further is that the violent incident appears to be
pre-meditated and orchestrated by another Church of Nigeria Bishop
according to a letter from the Church of Nigeria dated 29 November,

The letter, written by The Rt. Rev'd Nathan C. O. Kanu, Interim Coordinating Bishop,
Church of Nigeria North America Mission (CONNAM) to Bishop Ken Ross of the ACNA
directing him to stay away from Christ Anglican Church, saying: "Whatever the purpose
or intention, we are troubled that the visit may be misconstrued...
The optics may then ensue in additional protests or, worse, physical confrontations."

Bishop Kanu is the supervisor of The Right Reverend Dr. Augustine
Unigbe. The letter was also sent to The Most Rev. Henry Ndukuba, who is
the Primate of the Church of Nigeria.

It is unclear at this point whether the Church of Nigeria will respond
appropriately by removing Bishops Kanu and Unigbe from leadership.
While everyone is innocent until proven guilty in our system of law, the
evidence is overwhelming and very public. The CoN would be wise to
remove them at least over the next few months while authorities and
prosecutors vigorously move the matter through the courts. Given Bp
Kanu's assignment is from the Primate of the CoN, there are serious
Bishop Augustine assaulting a member of Christ Anglican Church with
his Bishop's staff questions if this was initiated at the highest levels of
the CoN. If so, this one incident may prompt the State Department and
FBI to become involved.

The Reverend Canon Justin Murff, Executive Director of the Anglican
Office for Government & International Affairs noted that "it seems the
Church of Nigeria does not understand that the peaceful free exercise of
religion is a constitutional right for all Americans. In the United States, we
respect the rule of law. Christ Anglican Church voted to join the Anglican
Church in North America almost a year ago. For the Church of Nigeria to
respond by threatening an ACNA Bishop with physical violence and then
lead a riotous mob attacking one of our churches, it's not just ungodly and
unacceptable, but illegal." Murff went on to say "The Anglican Office for
Government & International Affairs urges the Church of Nigeria to cease
its illegal actions immediately and we encourage the removal of Bishops
Unigbe and Kanu from their episcopal offices."

The AOGIA is working with the Rector at Christ Anglican Church and with
local police and prosecutors to ensure that the constitutional rights of the
parishioners are protected. "Anglican Churches in the United States are
committed to upholding, respecting, and defending our legal and
constitutional rights." commented Archdeacon Job Serebrov, AOGIA
General Counsel.

This situation is ongoing and the case is before local prosecutors.
About AOGIA: The Anglican Office for Government & International
Affairs exists to provide spiritual and educational resources for Anglicans
to advocate for religious freedom, engage in public diplomacy and civic
engagement, and provide a voice on behalf of global Anglicans in
international affairs.


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