Nigerian Christian College Student Raped, Murdered in Church

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A Christian university student was beaten, raped, and killed by a blow to the head with a fire extinguisher in a church in Benin City, Nigeria, on May 27, local media report.

Uwaila Vera Omozuwa was a 22-year-old student in microbiology at the University of Benin, the Nigerian Voice revealed, and was assaulted by a group of unknown men while she was reading alone in the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG) church in Benin City.

Uwaila had gone into the church to read in preparation for a possible reopening of school following several months of home confinement as a result of a coronavirus lockdown order, friends said on social media.

“The church’s security officer had gone to collect the keys to the church from its keeper when he was told that there was someone in the church already,” one source reported. The security officer arrived in the church to find the young woman in a pool of blood with the fire extinguisher used to bash her head lying next to her.

According to reports, the man ran back to inform the key keeper and his wife, who accompanied him back into the church. The three believed Uwaila to be dead but on noticing her hand move they rushed her to the hospital.

Uwaila regained consciousness at the hospital long enough to recount that she had been reading all alone in the church when she was ambushed by unknown men, who beat, raped, and hit her head with a fire extinguisher. The young woman died three days later, on May 30.

Olaitan Olubiyi, a spokesman for the church, said the young woman was a member of the choir who often studied privately in the church since lockdown measures were put in place in March.

“We are all devastated by her death. She decided to do some private studies during the lockdown because the church was peaceful. She’s been taking the key from the parish pastor and returning it after her studies,” Mr. Olubiyi said.

“But that day she didn’t return it and the night guard who resumed duty found her in a pool of her own blood and half-naked in the church hall,” he said.

Pastor Enoch Adeboye, the global head of the Redeemed Christian Church of God, said in a statement Sunday: “All I can do at this time is to pray for the family of Omozuwa and do everything possible working with relevant authorities to bring the perpetrators to book.”

A spokesman for Nigerian police described the young woman’s death as a “brutal attack” in a statement, adding that police would “bring the perpetrators of the callous act to book in the shortest possible time.”

Local media reported Tuesday that Nigerian police have arrested one person of interest in the case after his thumbprint was found on the fire extinguisher used in bludgeoning the victim.

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