The renewed wave of religious intolerance was on Monday, February 13, 2017 re-enacted in Abuja when arsonists, suspected to be Islamic fundamentalists, set ablaze a church building belonging to the Redeemed Christian Church of God, RCCG.
The arsonists, whose number could not be ascertained, also reportedly carted away the church’s properties worth millions of naira.
The incident, according to eyewitnesses, took place in the early hours of Monday at the Root of David Area Headquarters of the RCCG, in Apiawe, DeiDei, a suburb of Abuja.
The source indicated that the incident left the church completely razed, even as the arsonists made away with musical instruments and other valuables in the church.
Danjuma Abdullahi, an eyewitness, said the hoodlums arrived at the church premises by 5am, broke into the church premises and ransacked the building before setting it on fire.
He said: “The people came in the morning and stole everything in the church and burnt it down. The worshippers were not in the church when the incident happened as it was very early in the morning.”
Narrating the incident to Independent, Pastor Oladele Stephen, the minister-in-charge of the church, said that a church member put a call to him in the morning to inform him that a group of suspected Muslim fundamentalists had attacked the church and set it on fire.
According to him, “They made away with the generating set, musical instruments, chairs and microphones and set the whole structure on fire.”
Pastor Stephen stated that similar incident had occurred about two weeks ago when some hoodlums, suspected to be Islamic fundamentalists, also burgled into the church, by breaking in through the ceiling and made away with six ceiling fans, speakers and microphones.
“We reported the matter to the police, but no arrest was made,” Olawale stated, stressing that some of the hoodlums who constructed shanties near the church had on several occasions deliberately provoked the parishioners by burning grasses near the church, which spew heavy smoke into the church building during worship.
“These boys are selling and smoking hemps on daily basis near the church,” he added, even as he expressed concerns over a growing culture of religious intolerance in the country.
Oladele described the attack as an affront to the Christian community, adding that the church had been operating in the community since 15 years ago and had enjoyed harmonious relationship with the residents.
He disclosed that the matter had been reported to the provincial headquarters of the church and the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN).
When Independent visited the scene of the incident, the burnt remains of the church building was still smouldering.
Efforts to get reaction of the police as to if any arrests had been made in connection with the incident proved abortive as the Divisional Police Officer (DPO), Dei-Dei Police Station, was not readily available for comments.
DeiDei is about two kilometres from Kubwa, the area where a female preacher of the RCCG, and a pastor’s wife, was hacked to death by suspected Islamic fundamentalists.
A similar incident also took place at a Deeper Life Christian Church branch, located directly opposite the burnt RCCG parish.
During the incident, the hoodlums carted away chairs and other valuables, even as the police had not made any arrests despite repeated complaints.
Meanwhile, some of the residents of the area were said to have started fleeing the area with their belongings for the safety of their lives, as they feel that they might no longer be safe.
Culled From The Independent
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