This Day (Lagos)

16 May 2014

Nigeria: Catholic Church - We Have Lost Over N400 Million Property to Boko Haram

The Catholic Church Thursday decried its losses to religious crisis in the three North-eastern states of Adamawa, Yobe and Borno, claiming that physical structures worth over N400 million had been lost in the last eight years.

The church, which lamented that no one had come to its aid in the rebuilding process, said it was the right time for the federal government to compensate all those affected by religious crises in the region.

Addressing a press conference yesterday in Maiduguri, the Catholic Church through its Maiduguri Diocesan's Director of Social Communication, Fr. Gideon Obasogie; the Diocesan Secretary and Procurator, Fr. John Bakeni Bogna and the Project Manager and the Editor-in-Chief of the Truth Newspaper, Rev. Fr. Joseph Bature, said: "The Catholic Church in Nigeria is never silent on the abduction of our Chibok girls. It might interest you to know that the church in Nigeria is quietly but yet strongly involved in the "BringBackOurGirls" campaign. No wonder the Catholic Church in Nigeria observed an hour adoration for thorough prayers for the release of our daughters."

The trio, who took time to address the press conference, said though the Catholic Church had not be singled out for attack by the insurgents, the church had been severely affected and would need compensation from the government.

Obasogie said based on the reports that his office got from the diocese, which covers three states from Potiskum in Yobe State to Hong in Adamawa State, the number of persons killed as a result of the insurgency since 2009 till date was 500 with some corpses retrieved and given befitting burials and others corpses missing while the total number of churches or rectories burnt down was over 50.

He also lamented that the persons displaced within the diocese were over 90,000 with a total number of children killed being over 170 and women made widows were 300 and children made orphans over 1,500. He decried that churches in Pulka, Bama and Gamboru Ngala had been under siege for some time now.

Bogna on his part, lamented that for some time now, not only had the area where the Maiduguri diocese of the Catholic Church is located become a theatre of violence, but had snowballed into an abode of terrorists and bloodbath. He said this had adversely affected churches, rectories and the state of the faithful in the area with the population of the church dwindling daily.

The clergyman said the situation has had tremendous psychological effect on the people as "fear is a killer and people are living in fear."

He insisted that "the only weapon we have is prayers and we have been praying that people see the reason for peace. We have been praying for conversion and that the enemies change to do what is right." He, however, said everyone need to face it and find a way of changing the situation.

Rev. Fr. Joseph Bature, who briefed on the state of diocesan schools, lamented that the schools built by the mission in the area had more than their fair share of the attacks as many teachers and students had to stop coming to schools.

He said apart from the schools, health institutions established by the Catholic church in the area had been attacked with drugs carted away.

He lamented that the fluid and stability of schools in the diocese had been adversely affected with schools having to be closed intermittently.

"Most schools have been decimated as the parents have had to flee and take their children with them. The church is still planning to rebuild the burnt schools. A lot of teachers have had to flee and it has been difficult to get new teachers. Potiskum and Pulka health facilities have been closed down, the one in Shuwa vandalised by the insurgents the last time the town was attacked," he decried.

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