DAWAKIN KUDU, Nigeria, March 5 (Compass Direct News) — The Kano state
government has refused to grant approval to a church in this northern Nigerian town for 28
years, further emboldening area Muslims to attack it numerous times, the pastor said.
Since Christmas 2006, said pastor Jacob Bako of the local Evangelical Church of
Christ in Nigeria (ECCN), local Muslims have set fire to the congregation’s makeshift worship place three times.
“Because approval for the church has not been granted by the Kano state government, we have been forced to use an abandoned property of the Nigerian government as
a place of worship over the years,” Bako said. “What we have done is to use grass to thatch
the uncompleted building, and then we constructed benches using blocks in it.”
Due to the church’s lack of official permission, its worship place is located
in an abandoned housing project that had been under construction. The 115-member congregation, founded in 1980, is the only church in the Dawakin Kudu local government
area, Bako said.
“Over the years we”ve had bitter experiences with the Muslims in this town, who
are against the existence of this church,” the 47-year-old Bako said. “Muslims set fire on
it on Christmas day in 2006, and in the months of April and June 2007 they repeated these
acts of arson against us.”
On several occasions Muslims have gone to the site to write hate messages against Christians on the walls of the building, he said; they have also defecated at the site and spread the mess on the structure.
“I remember that on the Christmas day of 2006, Muslims went to the building the
previous night and messed the place before burning down the thatched roof,” Bako said. “We
had to clean up the mess before holding worship service on that day. Also, in April and in June 2007, Muslims again burned the place. These acts of arson on the building have become a common practice here against us.”
The Rev. Nelson Jebes, president of ECCN-Kano, verified Bako’s accounts of the
attacks, concurring that such hostilities are “a reality here in Kano — it is part of our lives and is now our lifestyle.”
“Most of the times Muslims rise against Christians,” Rev. Jebes said, “and in
the process, most of the churches get burnt and homes of Christians destroyed.”