Nigeria State Orders Christians To Leave Damaged Churches

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

By BosNewsLife Africa Service

ABUJA, NIGERIA (BosNewsLife) -- Christians in two churches that were were extensively damaged last year during religious violence in northern Nigeria were without places of worship Sunday, August 3, after authorities reportedly ordered them to vacate their premises.

The leaders of the Baptist Church and Evangelical Church of West Africa (ECWA) in the Tudun-Wada area of Kano State were told by the state's Ministry of Justice to "compulsorily purchase” their church within two days or “risk losing the land and any compensation," said religious rights group Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW).

During last's week's meeting, July 29, church leaders were also instructed to immediately vacate their premises, and to name a price for their sites, the group added.

Two days later at a meeting attended by representatives of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) and a Nigerian human rights group the local Village Head agreed to provide the churches with new sites, but more details were not yet made available, investigators said.


"A meeting to finalise all outstanding issues will take place on August 13," CSW added.

CSW National Director Stuart Windsor said the latest row comes at a time when "An inordinate number of Kano’s churches have either been destroyed during religious violence, or demolished by state authorities to make way for construction projects."

Yet, he said, so far, "none have received adequate compensation, alternative sites, or certificates of ownership, even when these have been promised."

While the July 31 "public verbal agreement on the part of Tudun-Wada’s Village Head" is in his words "a very welcome development" his group has urged officials "to follow through on this commendable undertaking." If adhered to, Windsor said, "it could contribute significantly towards the search for justice, reconciliation and religious harmony in Kano State."

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