The Catholic Church has been compelled to close down most of its churches in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa states because of acts of terrorism, just as Christians and Christian institutions have become the major targets in the Boko Haram sect’s mayhem.
“Christian men are caught and beheaded; the women are forced to become Muslims and are taken as wives to the terrorists. The houses of Christians that have fled are now occupied by the insurgents.
“Their cars are used by the terrorists. Some Muslims around identify Christian homes to be occupied and the Christians in hiding were also identified and killed. Strict Sharia Law has been promulgated.”
These are part of the press statement issued by the Director, Catholic Social Communications in-charge of the Maiduguri Diocese, Rev. Fr. Gideon Obasogie, following the recent occupation of Catholic churches in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa states by the Islamist Boko Haram sect.
The press statement tagged “Boko Haram on Rampage: Declaring A Caliphate in Gwoza the Catholic Diocese of Maiduguri” also lamented that while the occupation by the terrorists lasted, many church structures have been vandalised, burnt and dozens of people, especially Christians killed.
“Saint Timothy’s Bama have been under siege since last year. The Parish Priest, Reverend Father Timothy Cosmas has long been relocated to a different Parish. At the early part of this year St. Peter’s Pulka was badly attacked. Thanks to God the Pastor Fr. James John was luckily unavailable. The terrorists searched and wanted to kill the holy Priest of God.”
The statement added that on the 22th August 2014, the dreaded group boldly moved around in Gwoza and even declared caliphate while the assisting priest of Saint Denis Madagali, Reverend Father Aiden Ibrahim fled with some of the parishioners to the mountains and trekked to Michika local government area.
Recall that the dreaded sect had annexed Gwoza, a border town in Borno state from Nigeria’s Federal Government and declared it an Islamic Caliphate, even as the Emir of Gwoza, whose father was earlier killed by the sect members had fled his kingdom into exile.
Also recall that a purported spokesman for Boko Haram who called himself Abul Qaqa had told reporters in the northeastern city of Maiduguri in a phone conference last year that, “We launched these attacks to prove the Nigerian security wrong and to debunk their claim that we have been weakened by the military crackdown.
“The Nigerian state and Christians are our enemies and we will be launching attacks on the Nigerian state and its security apparatus as well as churches until we achieve our goal of establishing an Islamic state in place of the secular state.”
Italy’s International Cooperation Minister Andrea Riccardi had also condemned these attacks and called for international action to stop Boko Haram, saying that “Christian blood has again been spilt in Nigeria according to a now clear plan of ethnic and religious cleansing. The international community can no longer look on at this massacre of innocent people without intervening.”