Hindu Vivek Kendra
«« Back
Churches demolished in Nigeria

Churches demolished in Nigeria

Author: Obed Minchakpu
Publication: Global News from the Frontlines
Date: September 20, 2002
URL: http://owl.pbi.ab.ca/library/compassdirect/200209_Sep.htm#cd15

State Government in Northern Nigeria to Abolish Churches - Social Tension Heats Up as Islamic Officials Extend Islamic Law

The government of Kano state in northern Nigeria has decided to continue its policy of church demolition until only 50 percent of the existing Christian congregations remain in the state.

Rev. Dr. Joseph Fadipe, Chairman of the Kano state chapter of the Christian Association of Nigeria, said on August 13 that government officials told them there are too many churches in the state and that they plan to demolish half of them.

"The government's complaint against Christians was that there were too many churches in Kano and Muslims in the city are not happy with the development," Rev. Fadipe said. "They are demanding that we church leaders give the government approval to reduce the number of churches by 50 percent.

"We told the government officials that we can never endorse the demolition of churches. We told them that we would rather have all churches in the state demolished than to support the demolition of some."

Christian leaders say the Kano government has already demolished more than 20 church buildings, following implementation of Islamic law, or sharia. Church leaders have met with government representatives on three occasions to discuss the matter, but the meetings ended in deadlock.

Rev. Fadipe said that because the Nigerian federal government is incapable of protecting religious liberty, Christians in the state have resolved to take the issue before God. They devoted one week of fasting and prayer to the matter, from Monday, August 12, to Sunday, August 18.

Opposition to church reduction is also arising from another quarter. A non-governmental organization known as "Center for Cultural and Religious Rights" (CECURR) has advised the government of Kano to stop demolishing more churches to avoid further aggravation of religious tensions in the state.

CECURR released a press statement asking why churches are being demolished in the state when the government of Kano had promised at the inception of sharia that Christians would not be affected by Islamic law.

"People have the right to choose their religion and propagate same under national and international statute books and conventions," the statement said.

Kano is among 12 northern Nigerian states that adopted the Islamic legal code three years ago. Implementation of the law has heightened tensions between Muslims and Christians and is blamed for the deaths of thousands of people and the displacement of hundreds of thousands more.

For example, 500 Christian students of the Government Girls' Secondary School in the city of Bauchi have been expelled by the Islamic state government following clashes last May between the school's Muslim and Christian students. The religious crisis, which resulted in the deaths of three Christian students and the school's closure, was ignited when Muslim students attacked their Christian counterparts over religious disagreements.

Alhaji Abdumalik Mahmoud, Bauchi state deputy governor, justified the expulsion of the students on technical grounds, claiming it was intended "to check illegal admission in the school." Parents of the 500 students, however, say that their daughters were expelled because they are Christians.

"We wonder why it took the school authorities and government such a long time to discover that these girls got admission illegally into the school," said Thomas Yamusa, a father of one of the expelled Christian students. He pointed out that illegal admission was never mentioned until religious conflict engulfed the school.

Education is not the only social arena experiencing conflict. On Sunday, August 18, a group of eight Muslim militants murdered Benjamin Anekwe, a Christian businessman, at his home in Burum Burum, a town in Kano state.

Police reports stated that local Muslim leaders were "grieved" that Anekwe's wife, a Muslim, defied their wishes by marrying a Christian, so they assigned eight of their followers to carry out the murder. The assailants stormed the Anekwe home and beat Benjamin Anekwe to death with iron rods and sticks.

Police have arrested one of the suspected killers, but at press time, the other seven remained at large.

Back                          Top

«« Back
  Search Articles
  Special Annoucements