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Churches not allowed here

By Sam Eyoboka

THOSE born in Nigeria 900 years ago and others who made unquantifiable sacrifices on behalf of this country; either during the nationalist struggles or paid the supreme sacrifice on the field of war to keep the nation one will not survive one week in today’s Nigeria. Many of them, civil servants, lived freely in any part of the country. Railway workers, P&T workers, as well as traders freely resided wherever they wanted in any part of the country.

Last week, I had this mail which says a building belonging to The Redeemed Christian Church of God, RCCG, at Gusua in Zamfara State was set ablaze by yet to be identified persons three months after the incidence.

The RCCG parish building was torched by alleged hoodlums on January 25 this year. Quite naturally, sympathizers visited to commiserate with the leadership of the church with some making promises to arrest the peperatators of the heinous crime and bring them to book.

Three weeks after the fire incidence, a delegation from the community paid a sympathy visit to the church and empathized with the leadership of the church. After the normal exchange of pleasantries, the visiting community leaders dropped the clincher: “We sympathize with you for the fire incidence, but we must tell you that we will not allow you to rebuild this place as a church.” Infact, he added: “We have actually come to let you know that you have six months within which to vacate the site.”

That was when it dawned on the pastor and his congregation that Christians were not wanted in the community.

After several prayer sessions and reassured by biblical promise that wherever you set your foot, that land will be yours; members were just slowly picking themselves together with a view to remodel the church to the shame of the devil.

The pastor immediately dispatched a protest letter to the Zamfara State governor who, in his reckoning, is the only authority in the state that can either authorize their reconstruction work or in the alternative approve another location for the church.

As minutes are ticking towards the six months quit notice from the community leaders, the pastor and his congregation are still undergoing an endless wilderness period not sure if his SOS letter actually got to the state chief executive officer and if there would be a miracle call from his office before the expiration of the deadline.

Exactly 41 days before the above incidence in  Zamfara State, a Living Faith Church on Airport Road, Ilorin, Kwara State, still under construction, was razed down.

The founder of Living Faith Church, also known as Winners Chapel is Bishop David Oyedepo, a first class indigene of Kwara State who had contributed immensely to the socio-economic development of the state including the establishment of a state-of-the-art private university.

The only offence Oyedepo and his church had committed is that they dared to tread where angels and saints were not expected to go. The story goes thus: the church had acquired a land at Check-Point area along Ilorin-Ogbomosho Road for the purpose of building a church. After the acquisition of the required statutory rights of occupancy, they started construction work.

Trouble started when the immediate past vice chancellor of the University of Ilorin, Professor Isaq Oloyede allegedly appeared at the construction site on December 3, 2012, ordering the workers to stop work immediately because, according to him, the land on which they were building belongs to Muslim Students’ Society, MSS.

According to the report, the former vice chancellor, instead of opting for the legal option to settle the dispute amicably for the interest of peace, allegedly threatened to, among other things, mobilise 1,000 students to demolish the church if it didn’t stop the construction work. Nine days later, on December 12, 2012 the church was razed down and nobody has been apprehended.

For how long shall we continue this master/slave relationship? Everyday we mouth the need for a united Nigeria but at who’s expense? Why will a group be regarded as superior while the other inferior always? As the National Assembly is currently considering another constitutional amendment, it would be worthwhile for members to save a looming national catastrophe by genuinely and sincerely deliberating on the basis of the nation’s unity before the planned centenary celebration to mark the amalgamation of the two protectorates.


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