Sola Ojo, Kaduna
Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Kaduna State chapter condemned in strong terms the part burning of St. Augustine Catholic Parish, Tudun wada, Kaduna North local government area of the state by suspected Islamic extremists.
The church, which was located opposite Maimuna Gwarzo Girls secondary school, behind Kaduna Polytechnic Main Campus, was set ablaze by yet to be identified miscreants Friday night.
A statement by CAN Chairman in Kaduna, Rev Joseph Hayab, hinted that, the church has been touched or looted eight times by suspected Islamic fundamentalists.
“CAN kaduna state is sad with this development which is a clear indication that Kaduna is under siege and our Government is not paying serious attention to these evil happenings but instead busy chassing shadows with a divisive preaching bill,” Hayab said.
Meanwhile, the Kaduna State Government had commended the resilience of the congregation of St. Augustine’s Catholic Church.
A statement by Senior Special Assistant to Governor Nasir El-Rufai on Media and Publicity, Samuel Aruwan, explained that the priests and members of the church have given a loud rebuke to violence and bigotry by conducting their church service despite the arson attack of Friday night.
The government, according to him, “described this exercise of the right to worship as a fitting complement to the courage displayed by the students of Kaduna Polytechnic who put out the Friday night fire which burnt the altar of the church.
“Three persons have already been arrested in connection with the case. Government assured residents that there would be diligent prosecution of anyone indicted by the investigation.
“The Kaduna State Government has condemned the arson attack on St. Augustine’s Catholic Church, Tudun-Wada. The government has directed a comprehensive investigation of this assault on the right to freedom of worship. Government notes the arrest of three persons in connection with the sad incident and assures the public of diligent prosecution of anyone that is indicted by the investigation.
“The government salutes the resilience of the congregation of St. Augustine’s Church who today held their usual Sunday service in spite of the arson attack. Their courage is a loud rebuke to violence and bigotry, and a firm affirmation of the right to worship. Government also commends the students of Kaduna Polytechnic for rallying themselves to put out the fire.
“The government further thanked the management of Kaduna Polytechnic for deploying firefighters to the scene when students raised the alarm of fire in the the premises of the Church which shares a fence with the institution.
“A state government team, visited the church and conveyed the government’s message of sympathy to the priests and congregation.”
Aruwan also represented the government at a meeting held at Ungwan Sanusi Divisional Police Headquarters, with representatives of the church, led by Revd. Father Anthony Ikhenoba, Dean Northern Deanery, Dr. Daniel Attar, Chairman Parish Council and the Divisional Police Officer, CSP Mohammed Yusuf.
“The state government has also been in touch with the leadership of the Kaduna Catholic Archdiocese which has responded to the sad incident appreciate with commendable grace and a firm expectation of justice.
“The state government calls on all residents of the state to uphold peace and harmony, reject those who seek to divide and report anyone engaged in violence.”