John Shiklam in Kaduna
The Kaduna State chapter of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) has asked the state government to fish out those behind the frequent attacks on St. Augustine’s Catholic Church in Tudun Wada area of Kaduna metropolis and bring them to justice.
The association also wondered why despite the repeated attacks on the church, the police have not been able to arrest anybody.
The latest attack was last Friday, when some people, yet to be identified, invaded the church at about 11:30p.m. and burnt the sanctuary, setting ablaze loud speakers, chairs, vests, crucifix, altar bell and altar clothes among others.
The Parish Priest, Fr. Joshua Achiar, said the latest attack on the church is the eighth time.
However, speaking on the incident yesterday at a special “prayer for God’s intervention on the preaching bill” at the ECWA Church in Sabon Tasha, Kaduna, the state CAN Chairman, Rev. Joseph Hayab, urged the state government to go beyond the rhetoric of being on top of the situation and take immediate action against the perpetrators condemnable act.
“If we live in a country like Nigeria where we are supposed to freely practice our faith, is there a particular place in Kaduna that we shouldn’t reside or Christians should not have churches?” Hayab asked.
He said: “We have been working hard to reduce the problems of segregation, but things like these just keep frustrating such efforts.
”Some people are deliberately insisting that people of other faiths must not live among them or religious symbols or structures of other faiths should not be in their area.”
He said CAN is not happy with this kind of situation and called on government to do everything possible to bring the perpetrators to justice.
”We feel the government must go beyond this rhetoric of ‘we are on top of the situation’, and take action.
”Yesterday, there werea lot of calls from government officials to Catholic leaders, that is not what we want, we want action! Let the government go after these evil people. We cannot continue like this. I want to see Muslim practicing their faith in Sabon Tasha, I want to see Christians practicing their faith in Tudun Wada …this is what we want to see,” he said.
Speaking further, he said: “We have been paying lip service that Kaduna State is peaceful when there are areas in the state that people of other faith cannot practice their faith. It is wrong.
”About two months ago, the old ECWA Church in the area suffered the same fate.
“I want to appeal strongly to the Tudun Wada community and the Muslim leaders of Tudun Wada, to let us change the story of our community.
“You heard me today that this is Sabon Tasha, a predominant Christian community, I as a Christians today would be the last person to support and encourage any Christian youth to destroy what belongs to any Muslim or destroy any mosque.
“If any Christian is arrested doing that, I will support the police to prosecute him. We should live peacefully.”
Meanwhile the state government has condemned the incident and also commended the church members for “loudly rebuking violence and bigotry by conducting their church service despite the arson attack last Friday night.”
Samuel Aruwan, the spokesman to the state Governor, Nasir el-Rufai, in a statement yesterday, disclosed that three people have been arrested in connection with the incident, assuring them that there would be diligent prosecution of anyone indicted by the investigation.
However, sources in the church revealed that the three people arrested are security guards of the church who are being detained by the police for questioning.