• First published in 2004 as Bartholomew’s Notes on Religion (BNOR).

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Leo Igwe’s Father Loses Eye in Attack by Gunmen

Back in January, I noted Nigerian sceptic Leo Igwe’s campaigning on behalf of Daberechi Anongam, a ten-year-old girl from his home village who has accused a powerful man from the same location of rape. Leo and his father have been harassed by the local police and accused of murder, and worse has now come:

Around midnight on Wednesday August  4 2010,two gunmen invaded my family house in Mbaise in Imo state in Southern Nigeria. They shot twice in the air and my mother fainted. They later descended on my aging father and started beating him. They blindfolded him with a piece of cloth and hit him several times with stones.

He later fainted and the hoodlums ransacked the whole house and made away with whatever they found valuable. My father  bled from the right eye, nose and mouth. He had bruises on his head, hands, legs and chest. After the attack, some neighbours came and rushed him to a nearby hospital. From there, I moved him to an eye hospital in Lagos where the doctor confirmed that he had extensive injuries in the right eye and recommended that it be removed. Yesterday, August 11, 2010, he underwent a surgery and the right eye was removed. He is currently recuperating at the hospital. I called the police to inform them, and they said I should send a formal petition.

… The police and judicial systems are corrupt, inept and ineffective. Police officers are only interested in making money from petitions, not in fighting or preventing crimes. And the court system is slow and expensive. So in Nigeria police and court actions are used by criminally minded people to harass and intimidate others, and block access to justice particularly for the poor and less privileged…

These issues must be raised with the Nigerian authorities at the highest level. They should be kept on the front burner of international relations and human rights advocacy until the Nigerian authorities take appropriate actions. The Nigerian government must be made to understand that the international community is aware of the facts of this case. And that the world is outraged at the way they are handling it. The human rights community should join hands with the IHEU in bringing this disturbing trend to the attention of the world.

Leo’s full statement can be seen on Butterflies and Wheels.

I’ve been following Leo’s activism for some time. Back in 2005 I noted his role in debunking a “man raised from the dead” tale that was being touted by WorldNetDaily and some neo-Pentecostal churches; more recently, Leo has taken on followers of Helen Ukpabio, who promotes the idea that children can become “witches” who then harm other people – a year ago, I was proud to host a guest post by him on the subject. An event he organised to highlight the grim consequences of Ukpabio’s teaching was invaded by her followers, and he was handled roughly; Ukpabio also tried to sue him on the grounds that attacking her beliefs amounts to an infringement of her rights. Leo also advocates an end to the persecution of gay men and lesbians in Africa, and Peter Tatchell describes him as “a voice for reason, justice and compassion”. An overview of his opinions can be seen here.

4 Responses

  1. A brave and wonderful man clearly, one who demands greater levels of support.

  2. Richard Bartholomew, Leo Igwe, and his father are all useless fools. you people have not seen any thing yet. Bad dogs barking in vain

  3. […] recent lost an eye in an assault by gunmen, and one of Ukpabio’s followers left a comment under my blog entry on the subject: Richard Bartholomew, Leo Igwe, and his father are all useless fools. you people […]

  4. […] blogged on this incident here. Leo has many enemies in Nigeria, including the evangelist Helen Ukpabio, who hates Leo for his […]

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