Emmanuel Adeyemi, Lokoja
It was a traumatic day for some Christian worshippers in Kogi Monday evening when some armed thugs stormed Dunamis International Church, Ayingba, stripped the pastor naked after beating him to unconsciousness, and abducted two other worshippers.
The thugs, allegedly led by the former Dekina council boss and the Local Government chairmanship candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Ishaq Shuaibu Okolo, were said to have violently disrupted a prayer walk organised by the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Kogi East chapter, to pray for the peace of the country and God’s intervention to stop the violence.
The thugs were said to have shot sporadically into the air and went straight to the leader of the Christian group, Bishop David Sanders, beat him and tore his clothes into shreds until he became unconscious.
Several other church leaders and worshippers were also said to have been beaten, including some women and children, while properties of Dunamis International Church where the prayer walk was to commence, were vandalised.
Three other church leaders, including the zonal secretary of the prayer group, Silas Edegbo, were later abducted and carried off to an unknown destination.
Speaking with reporters on phone, the resident pastor of the church, Samson Ejila, expressed sadness that a peaceful Christians’ prayer walk for the country could be so disrupted with so many people sustaining various degree of injuries.
According to him, he said the organisers of the programme obtained permission from the appreciate authorities, including the police, with the knowledge of the State Deputy Governor, Edward Onoja who gave them the go-ahead, and wondered why a prominent political player in the area could lead armed thugs to disrupt an unarmed group.
‘We are surprised that it is a past LG boss in the person of Ishaq Shuaibu Okolo, who is contesting for the chairmanship election for the Dec 12 LG poll that has done this to the Christians,’ he said.
‘This is not rumours, he was the one that physically led the thugs, including some vigilante members to attack us. We have every document, including video clips, and so he can not deny this,’ he added
Ejila confirmed that the three abducted members were released in the early hours of Tuesday after they had been thoroughly tortured.
The Kogi State Governor Yahaya Bello condemned the Monday’s attack the Christians.
The Governor in a statement issued on Tuesday by his Chief Press Secretary, Onogwu Muhammed, while condemning the act, assures that perpetrators of such unholy act will be fished out to face the full weight of the law.
Bello said at a time the country is facing unrest and disturbance, there is need for every religious organisation to intensify their faith by praying to God for His intervention in the affairs of the country, noting that any act capable of truncating peaceful religious gathering is sacrilegious, repugnant and unacceptable.
Meanwhile, attempts to get the reaction of Okolo proved futile as several calls to his cell phone were not answered.