By Ndahi Marama, Maiduguri
A young boy Ezekiel, 27 years old has been killed while five others have sustained various gunshot injuries when the Borno Geographic Information Service (BOGIS) demolished a church at Moduganari area of Maiduguri the Borno state capital.
The staff of the Borno Geographic Information Service, the agency responsible for the maintenance of land, were said to have entered the community at about 11 o’clock in the morning with a grading truck, bringing down the worship Centre without notifying the owners of the church.
The incident which has raised tension within the city according to sources was properly managed to ensure it did not spread to other parts of the state which have been ravaged by activities of insurgents in the last 13 years, even as the dead body of the Christian victim has been deposited at the Mortuary of State Specialist Hospital, Maiduguri, while others who sustained gunshot wounds are currently receiving treatment.
BOGIS is an agency created by the present administration of governor Babagana Umara Zulum, that is charged with the responsibility of managing land matters in the state.
The head of the agency, in his youthful, Engineer Adam Bababe, could not be reached for a response when journalists went to meet him in his office.
But the Reverend in charge of the Local Church a.k.a Church of Brethren in Nigeria (Ecliziyan Yanuwa a Nigeria, E.Y.N) in Hausa parlance, Maduganari, Maiduguri metropolis, Reverend Shawulu Auta Ndahi who confirmed the incident to our correspondent said, ” We received a distress call this morning that some of my people, mostly Youths at one of our Local Church Branch near Tudu area of Maduganari Ward were shot by some men of Civilian Joint Task Force who were attached to BOGIS officials.
“From the information, I have at hand was that some BOGIS officials went and demolished one of our Church in Maduganari, unfortunately, the said church and the land was never marked for demolition, and this did not go down well with our Christian Youths who started protesting, in the process, some security men suspected to be members of civilian JTF opened fire on our protesting youths, killing one of them and injured five. As I am talking to you right now, I am with the victims at the Accident and Emergency Unit of State Specialist Hospital, SSH Maiduguri.
“But I promised to get in touch with our leaders and the next step forward”. Ndahi stated.
According to eyewitnesses, late Ezekiel was shot at the chest by men of the civilian joint taskforce who accompanied and provided protection for the men of the agency while demolishing the Church.
Another witness, Helen Moyo disclosed that the CJTF were in Hilux vans fully armed with guns and immediately they alighted from the vans they headed to the labourers at Church building site and seized their gadgets, “immediately they came down from their vehicles they headed to the labourers and began seizing their phones. They seized five phones of all the labourers so that they will not call anyone”
Hadiza, also an eyewitness said that “when they seized the phones, they intensified the shootings as people were gathering in an attempt to disperse the people. In that process, they shot at others. One boy that running for safety was hit by a stray bullet in his arm. I don’t know the present condition of that boy now.
Speaking exclusively to our correspondent, the Chairman, Christian Association of Nigeria, Borno State chapter, Bishop Mohammed Naga said, he was at the hospital to see the victims and expressed dissatisfaction with the killing, shooting and demolition that ensued.
He said, CAN body under his leadership in the state are making a frantic effort to meet and come out with their position known.
” I was at the hospital to see the victims, and I am using this opportunity to express my dissatisfaction with the killing, shooting and demolition that ensued.
” But CAN body under my leadership in the state is making frantic effort to meet and come out with our position known,” Naga said.
Sources said the demolished church is a local church branch of the EYN Maduganari covered with canopies. The Church decided to extend and erect a befitting building, it was in the process of building the Church that the BOGIS officials came and destroyed the building without giving them the chance to bring out any property.
“Canopies were used to cover the site for worshippers, the local church council at Maduganari decided to erect a building to replace the canopies. But then, the Church council also approved for the extension of the Church, so we dug the foundation for the extension and we are yet to even lay a block on the dug foundation. We were supposed to start the foundation today when they came and demolished the whole place.
“We were not given the chance to pack our property, they destroyed everything in the Church. A worshipper disclosed.
Meanwhile, the Police Public Relations Officer, PPRO Borno State Police Command, SP Edet Okon when contacted said, the command was not aware of the development as they were yet to be briefed on the matter.