Maiduguri Churches Burned in Violence in Northern Nigeria

Church of the Brethren Newsline
July 29, 2009

At least two churches of Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN–the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria) have been destroyed in Maiduguri, and several Brethren members killed in violence that has swept across northeastern Nigeria since the beginning of this week. The churches named in a report from EYN leaders include EYN Maiduguri/Wulari (or Maiduguri No. 1 church), which was burned down, and EYN Jajeri.

The report was received from EYN General Secretary Jinatu Wamdeo and a leading EYN pastor from Maiduguri who also is a former chairperson of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) Borno State Branch. (His name is being withheld to help ensure his safety.)

“EYN Wulari–the biggest EYN church–is bombed,” the report said. “Three EYN members of Local Church Council Jajeri were killed, the assistant pastor injured. The security and the driver of EYN Maiduguri (were) injured.”

Violence also has been threatened in Mubi, the closest town to the headquarters of EYN.

The Maiduguri churches were destroyed early in the morning on Monday, July 27, during a wave of terrorist-type violence that began Sunday and included bombings of police stations and barracks, and attacks on police across the area, according to news reports. The violence reportedly has been perpetrated by members of an obscure fundamentalist Islamic sect that is opposed to Western-style education.

This is the third time violence has affected EYN churches in recent years: EYN members were injured in the town of Jos in central Nigeria during rioting in December 2008, and at least five EYN churches in Maiduguri were destroyed or damaged in February 2006, in violence sparked by the publication of cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad.

At least 13 churches have been destroyed and more than 50 Christians have been killed in Maiduguri, the EYN leaders reported. The churches that were destroyed included the COCIN (Church of Christ in Nigeria) Railway church, whose pastor was among those killed. “The brutal murder of Pastor Sabo of COCIN Railway was a sad one,” the EYN leaders wrote.

Government officials may have had warning of imminent attacks by the Islamic sect, the report indicates. Prior to the outbreak of violence, leaders of the Christian Association of Nigeria had expressed concern to the police commissioner and other officials. “On Friday the State Governor in a state-wide radio and television broadcast assured all that adequate security measures were put in place and no cause to fear, but alas,” the report said.

The report ended with a plea for prayer: “Please pray for all Christians in northern Nigeria, more especially in Bauchi, Yobe, and Borno States. Pray for peace in Nigeria and these places.”

The Church of the Brethren Newsline is produced by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford, director of news services for the Church of the Brethren. Newsline stories may be reprinted if Newsline is cited as the source. Contact cobnews@brethren.org to receive Newsline by e-mail or to submit news to the editor. For more Church of the Brethren news and features, subscribe to “Messenger” magazine; call 800-323-8039 ext. 247.

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