BY NDAHI MARAMA, MAIDUGURI
The Director of Catholic Social Communication of Maiduguri Diocese, Rev. Gideon Obasogie has said that two months after the capture of 11 towns in Borno and Adamawa states by Boko Haram, residents could not return to their houses and places of worship, as 185 churches in the diocese were torched and 190, 545 people displaced.
Obasogie disclose this, Monday, in a signed press statement tagged “state of captured towns;” and made available to newsmen in Maiduguri, the state capital.
According to the statement, the “ransacking and torching” of churches in the captured towns and villages, have already displaced many priests, and are taking refuge in either Yola or Maiduguri metropolisis for the last one or two months.
He said the capturing of towns along with the torching of about 185 places of worship is, “sad, heart arching and potentially dangerous to the territorial integrity and common good of Nigeria.”
The statement also reads in part: “It is over 30 days now that our Church communities in Gulak, Shuwa, Michika, Bazza…… were sacked by the callous attacks of the Boko Haram terrorists. While Gwoza and Magadali had been under the tyrannical and despotic control of the terrorists and this is almost the sixtieth day.
“Our Priests are displaced, while citizens, who were supposed to celebrate their independence as a free Nation, were rather counting their losses and regrets as they had been reduced to the status of Internally Displaced Persons, IDPs. Where is the freedom?
“Life is really terribly difficult. We are waiting eagerly to go back home, even as it is obvious that we are going to reconstruct our looted and burnt houses and ecclesial structures.
We have been sacked for months, sleeping in uncompleted buildings, camps and school premises. We have been absorbed into houses of relations and friends
in sixties and seventies.”
On displaced priests and residents, Obasogie said: “Meals time is always difficult and shameful. We have counted weeks rolling into months, must we also count years? We are waiting to go back home!
Nigerians are waiting to go back to their ancestral homes!!! .
Our minds are greatly troubled, do we think about our status, Or about our family members yet to be connected with ever since we fled our homes?”
The statement also queried: “Do we worry about our aged parents who were not so strong to run, they always fed us with words of encouragement and wisdom.
Do we worry about our sick members, women and infants who had been trapped? Most of whom we heard had been rape and killed. Or worry about the health, education and future of our children? We have got a lot of questions yet to be answered.”
On re-opening of closed schools, Obasogie said: “Talking about resumption, our children have not been fed and well clothed so resumption to schools is practically out of our calculation. In our opinion if thousand of Nigerian children can’t go to school then in the long run “boko is really haram.” Then their future is at stake,
The health condition of our people is truly troubling in
their displaced camps in Maiduguri, Mubi, Yola, Uba, Gombe, Biu and Damaturu.
“While our people perish inaction, or rather slow action is what we get. Political activities in neighboring communities were on-going as though nothing were a stake.
The seemingly not so much talked about syndicate would someday be a yoke on all. Lately, three councils of Bama, in Borno state; Madagali and Michika in Adamawa state and their Local Govt. Chairmen were all sacked.
“The Shehus and Emirs (on -throne)- were overturned, this amounts to what I would rather refer to as (cultural coup), since unknown figures have been placed in such capacities.
Thousand displaced, many killed, and others forcibly conscripted. These are pointers that Boko Haram terrorism is not just a northern problem, but a Nigerian problem and in fact a global issue.
As a church we are really going through a severe moment of persecution. The ecclesial circumscription is facing sharp disintegration.