Nigeria: Protests against killing of 29-year-old and demolition of a church

Numerous believers gathered at the site of the destroyed church in Maiduguri's Moduganari suburb on Sunday, August 8, to pray for peace. Photo: zVg

The incident occurred on August 5 in a suburb of Maiduguri, capital of Borno State. A unit of the Borno State Geographic Information System (BOGIS) agency went to the EYN (Church of the Brethren) compound there and began to demolish the church building. Security forces responded to the protest by those present with gunfire. As a result, a 29-year-old man was killed and five other people were injured.

The act of violence triggered demonstrations among the population. The national association of Christian churches, Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), also formulated a strong protest. Two days after the death, the chairman, Bishop Naga Mohammed, held a media conference and demanded that those responsible for the young man's death be brought to justice and that the EYN church be rebuilt - as well as three other churches demolished by the agency.

Further potential for conflict in troubled region

The events show that tension is high in Borno state, the most northeastern in Nigeria. For years, the region has suffered from attacks and violence by the Islamist terrorist militia Boko Haram.

The demolition of four churches and (according to local newspapers) mosques is causing additional discontent in the region. Apparently, legal regulations in the state hinder the official registration of churches and prayer rooms. The destruction of religious community spaces now means an aggravation of the situation.

Effort for peaceful coexistence

On the other hand, most Christians and Muslims in the region (they form the majority in this state) strive to live together peacefully.

The EYN, a partner church of Mission 21, sees itself as a peace church and calls for constructive cooperation across religious and ethnic boundaries. On Sunday, August 8, members and those associated with the church set an appropriate example. They gathered on the site of the destroyed church for peaceful prayer.

Text: Christoph Rácz, Image: zVg

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