‘The police said God will help us recover property’
By Caleb Ayansina, Abuja
Last Monday was a black day for members of a parish of the Redeemed Christian Church of God, RCCG, in Abuja, was invaded and set ablaze by people believed to be religious extremists.
The incident took place around 5am at the Root of David Area Headquarters in Apiawe village, DeiDei, via Kubwa, one of the satellite towns of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
The hoodlums were said to have made away with musical instruments and other valuables worth millions of naira belonging to the church before they set it on fire.
•The building of the church razed by fire
Some people, who spoke at the scene to Sunday Vanguard revealed that the attackers were many but their actual number could not be ascertained. “The people came in the morning and stole everything in the church and burnt it down. The worshipers were not in the church when the incident happened as it was very early in the morning,” one of the eyewitnesses, Danjuma Abdullahi, said.
Narrating the story, the Pastor-in-charge of the parish, Pastor Oladele Stephen, said he received a distress call from one of his members, informing him that some fanatics had burnt down the church.
“They made away with our generating set, musical instruments, chairs and microphones and set the building on fire,” he said.
The pastor noted that the church auditorium was also, some weeks ago, attacked by some suspected religious fundamentalists, who broke into the church through the ceiling and made away with six ceiling fans, speakers and microphones.
He added that the matter was reported to the police, saying, however, that nothing was done. “We reported the matter to the police, but no arrest was made,” Stephen said.
The cleric expressed dismay at the unchecked growing religious intolerance even in the Federal Capital Territory, wondering why security operatives appeared to be displaying open sympathy for what he described as ungodly and illegal acts.
Oladele explained that, on several occasions, some of the extremists, who own shanties near the church, had provoked the parishioners by burning grass near the place of worship, thus spewing heavy smoke into the auditorium during worship.
“These boys sell and smoke hemp on daily basis near the church,” he added.
While describing the attack as an affront to the Christian community, the pastor stated that the matter had been reported to the provincial headquarters of the church and the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN).
The cleric said; “We reported to the Divisional Police Officer (DPO) on Monday around 10am but they have not made any arrest. Instead, they were asking us whether we suspect anyone. The DPO told us that we should just go and assured us that God will help us to recover all the property.”
The DPO in charge of Dei-Dei Police Station was not available for comments.
Conducting an on-the-spot assessment at the parish, National President, Youth Wing of CAN (YOWICAN), Daniel Kadzai, said it was unfortunate that the issue of attack on Christians and their churches had not been taken seriously in the country.
“I want to express my disappointment in this government for gross dereliction of duty. The primary role of government is to provide security to its citizens irrespective of religion or ethnicity,but it seems the government has failed in this duty,” he said.
Also speaking on the incident, the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) condemned the attack on the Redeemed Church parish, describing it as barbaric.
The Chairman, FCT Chapter of CAN, Rev. Jonah Samson, also called on the Federal Government to take action on what had happened by arresting the culprits and bring them to book, saying this will go a long way to avoid further tension between the two major religions in the country.
Samson said; “I see this as provocation and it is so painful. You don’t need an angel to tell you that a lot of destruction has been done here. “We are hoping that the law will take its course in a situation where you find people who do not have respect for the law. To be very frank, issues like this must be tamed and people who have done this should be arrested and made to face the full wrath of the law. “We expect that government will take action and ensure that they fish out those who are responsible for this act and then we will be satisfied.”