Nigeria: Northern State to Demolish Four Churches

Monday, December 3, 2007

Road, hospital construction called guise for destroying temples in Muslim-run Kano.

KANO, Nigeria (Compass Direct News) -- Without discussion or compensation, the Kano state government has unilaterally decided to demolish four churches in this city to make way for roads and a hospital.

Two Pentecostal churches and two churches belonging to the Evangelical Church of West Africa (ECWA) will be demolished under the northern Nigerian city’s plan. The Rev. Murtala Marti Dangora, secretary of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Kano state chapter, said the road and hospital construction are a guise for demolishing the churches.

“Throughout last month [October], announcements were made by the Kano state government on its state radio that a road would be constructed in Badawa area, and that all structures there must give way,” Dangora said. “These churches are located in the said area, and the government has refused to discuss with us about the fate of these churches.”

Dangora said that during re-election campaigning earlier this year, Kano Gov. Malam Ibrahim Shekarau promised Muslims in the Ginginya area that if they gave him the mandate, “he would demolish the ECWA church and relocate the police barrack there in order to build a hospital for them.”

The ECWA church in the Ginginya area serves Christian policemen in the barracks and their families, as well as other members of the Christian community there. The other three churches to be demolished are Assemblies of God Church, Mountain of Fire and Miracles Church, and an ECWA church, all in the Badawa area of Kano.

The plan to demolish the churches, Kano CAN leaders said, is a continuation of an onslaught on the church by the state government under Gov. Shekarau, who has implemented the Islamic legal system (sharia).

The Kano State Commissioner for Information did not return calls by Compass requesting comment on the demolition plans.

Same Ploy

Dangora said the ploy reflects the same strategy the state government used last year, when it instructed local authorities of the Rogo town council to demolish the HEKAN church there. It was the only church serving the Christian community in Rogo town.

Muazu Aliyu, the HEKAN church caretaker in Rogo, told Compass that the demolition of the church on September 30, 2006 has left the 70-member congregation without a place of worship.

“In the process of demolishing the worship place, these Muslim government officials destroyed Bibles, hymnbooks, and church pews,” Aliyu said.

On the church premises, he added, was a 30-bedroom building accommodating Christian public servants who were denied lodging on properties belonging to Muslims.

“The house was also demolished along with the church building,” he said.

Aliyu said that the church has not been allowed to worship anywhere else, and the local government has made no land available for them to build a new church.

The HEKAN Church Rogo was built in 1982 and served as the only worship place for all Christians in the town, about 120 kilometers (75 miles) from Kano city.

Yahaya Ibrahim, pastor of HEKAN Church Kadafa Dari in the greater Rogo Local Government Area, told Compass that the demolition was an example of persecution in just one of various realms. Among other spheres, he cited discrimination against Christian children in public schools.

“Our children cannot be admitted into government-owned schools unless they change their names to Muslim names,” Ibrahim said. “There are times children of Christians are forced to convert into Islam.”

Ibrahim said that there are about 13,000 Christians in the Rogo Local Government Area, but that they are being denied land to build churches.

“When you go round this local government area, you would find that there are about 72 fellowship groups meeting under different names of church denominations, but they do not have land to build places of worship,” he told Compass. “Such is the situation that daily confronts us here.”

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