Most Senior Apostle James Ozigi, general secretary of the Council of African and Caribbean Churches and chair of the Cherubim and Seraphim Church in the UK, has died in Nigeria.
On 8 November he was travelling in a car from Lagos to Ibadan, when a tyre on the car burst and the car crashed. He died later in hospital. His wife, Elizabeth, his brother and the driver were also injured. His wife is still being treated for her injuries.
Nigerian born James Ozigi was on the staff of Churches Together in Britain and Ireland for fourteen years, working for the Churches’ Commission for Racial Justice (CCRJ). James Ozigi described CCRJ as ‘a voice for the voiceless’. During the 1980s, he was deported from the UK and with CCRJ’s support, the deportation was revoked.
CCRJ is well known for its anti-racism work and for organising Racial Justice Sunday when thousands of Christians pray for an end to racism and injustice and raise money for the Racial Justice Fund. As Executive Secretary of the Racial Justice Fund James Ozigi visited projects and saw lives transformed by grants from the Fund. He said: ‘The Church has expressed itself in a most dynamic way by giving to these projects, by not just campaigning but making a financial contribution to say “we are on your side”, whether to asylum seekers or relatives of those who’ve died in custody. The Church has demonstrated its ability to stand with the marginalised and oppressed in this country.’
He left CCRJ in May, when declining funds from the churches prompted CCRJ to find a new direction for its work. However, the projects supported by the Racial Justice Fund continue to be central to CCRJ’s work.
The new staff of CCRJ paid tribute to his major contribution to racial justice work in Britain and Ireland and said their thoughts and prayers were with James’ wife and family. A former colleague, the Revd Arlington Trotman said: ‘The sudden passing of James has been profoundly shocking and he will be a massive loss to his family and all his colleagues. His important contribution to the work of racial justice in Britain and Ireland will stand as a fitting memorial for someone who began life in Britain as a person seeking asylum. James and I worked together over seven and half years. He was a devout Christian pastor and friend including to the many projects with whom he worked for over fourteen years. Naturally, he will be deeply missed.’