Members of demolished church continue protest in Maiduguri

Governor Babagana Zulum of Borno State

Richard Elesho

Aggrieved members of a Christian denomination, Ekkliziyan Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN) Church, otherwise called Church of Brethren in Maduganari, Maiduguri Borno State have resisted intimidation and continued their peaceful protest over the demolition of the church.

The demonstration entered a second day on Friday, with the protesters calling on the State Governor, Prof. Babagana Zulum to rebuild the church, without delay.

It would be recalled that officials of the State government on Thursday morning moved in with bulldozers to demolish the church, a water factory and other properties.

Members mobilized to the scene in protest against the act. The police however responded with live bullets and killed Ezekiel Bitrus, one of the protesters, Several others sustained various degrees of injury.

Although Governor Zulum condemned the shooting and ordered a probe of the death, the church members insisted they were being victimised and that their ownership of the land was legitimate. They displayed their Certificate of Occupancy, C of O.

At a media conference at the demolished site of the church on Friday morning, the Reverend Pastor in charge of EYN Maduganari, Reverend Shawulu Auta Ndahi, condemned the killing and called on the State Government to immediately assist the families of the deceased and those hospitalized.

He said, “We have gathered here today to express our displeasure over what has happened to our church and its members.Yesterday (Thursday) morning at about 11 am, we received a distress call that some officials of  Borno Geographic Information System (BOGIS) in the company of some CJTF and graders came and demolished our church with all facilities destroyed.

“In the process, some of our aggrieved members started hurling stones at the officials of BOGIS, before Some CJTF members opened fire after seizing their communication gadgets, which led to the killing of Mr Ezekiel Bitrus, May His Gentle Soul Rest In Peace.

“In view of this unwholesome conduct, we are hereby displaying our Certificate of Occupancy and other relevant documents used in acquiring this land which are legal documents. Therefore, as a church that believes in peace and unity, we have some demands for Governor Zulum to immediately reconstruct our demolished church and other facilities including our pure water factory.

“Although, there is nothing worth on earth that can compensate life, we request the State Government to immediately assist the families of the deceased and those who sustained gunshot wounds currently receiving treatment at the State Specialist Hospital, Maiduguri.

“The church which has 99% of its membership and citizens of Borno, also want the State Government to lift the ban for the teaching of Christian Religious Knowledge (CRK) in all our primary and secondary schools as it has been the practice in the past, as the constitution allows for freedom of worship in the country,” he stated.

Daily Trust reports that in his address, the CAN Youth Chairman, Metro, Mr Sunday Ishaku, accused the CAN leadership in the state of failure to issue a statement on the incident.

It would be recalled that Borno has been the epicentre of Boko Haram insurgency for over a decade.