“They say they will never allow us build a church in Maiduguri again,” the man narrating why the church was demolished said.
By George Onmonya Daniel
A couple of weeks ago the Borno Emirate Council issued a very angry statement over the use of Kanuri traditional dress by Zumunta Mata, Christian women choir, for a video of a Christian song. The spokesman to the Shehu of Borno who called himself custodian of the culture said it was offensive to use Kanuri attire to sing a Christian song and asked Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) to apologize.
Is this the reason why the EYN church was demolished? The man talking in the video above seem to think so. He narrated that the government and political elites who control the state promised that Christian would never build another church in Maiduguri again because of the Zumunta Mata video where they were shown singing Christian songs with Kanuri attire.
If the landed property has a Certificate of Occupancy (C’of’O) why then was it demolished? From the information available a mosque was built just closed by the church no long ago. The Borno State government said they would investigate but the member of the church where one person was killed and several injured during the demolition don’t trust the government. Apart from early condemnation of the incident, Governor Umara Babagana Zulum hasn’t said much about the incident. He has called for investigation but we know how such investigations go in Nigeria.
Is the story of Christian persecution in Borno anything to go by? Let me give you a scenario. Several years ago a Borno indigene, a lady who worked with Borno Radio Television Corporation, the state media establishment, played a Christian song on air and she was sacked. Christian songs and programmed are prohibited in Borno State even though the state has significant population of Christians, but during Ramadan (fasting period) the whole state radio and television is taken over by tafsir (Islamic preachings) from dusk till dawn. Only the federal government’s Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) shows a Christian programme for thirty minutes every Sunday. The state television and radio completely banned it.
The Christain Association of Nigeria (CAN) Borno State chapter does not care about their members apart from the yearly pilgrim money they get from the government and money they get at the end of the year from government to buy rice and others to share of which the excos benefit from it.
Reliable source in Maiduguri just confirmed to me that Governor Zulum may not be aware of this latest demolition of EYN Church but the overzealous Chairman of Borno Geographic Information Services (BOGIS), a copy of the Federal Capital Territory’s AEGIS that is responsible. The Chairman, Borno State Geographic Information Service (BOGIS), Bashir Shettima, is said to have brought some nice revenue allocation initiative to the government which is generating a lot of revenue for Borno State government and with such responsibility comes power and power corrupts. Why did he order the demolition of a church with a Certificate of Occupancy? Is it linked to the threat that Christians will not build any church in Maiduguri?
For now the allegation of persecution of Christians in Borno State is strong and Governor Zulum needs to really look into that as the state belongs to both Christians and Muslims. Since Governor Zulum took over he has been considered a governor of the masses, we would keep monitoring Borno to see if that masses include the Christians.