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Muslim Militants Torch Nigeria Church

Wednesday, September 3, 2008 | Tag Cloud

By BosNewsLife Africa Service

ABUJA, NIGERIA (BosNewsLife) -- A major umbrella group representing numerous Christian denominations in Nigeria urged authorities Tuesday, September 2, to detain those responsible for the burning of an evangelical church in Ilorin, the capital of this African nation's Kwara State.

In published remarks, the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) suggested that suspected Muslim militants set ablaze the Christ Apostolic Church building in Ilorin on Sunday, August 31, apparently after they complained that the church building was located near a mosque.

The church building is reportedly located some 500 meters from the Baboko Mosque, but to appease the Muslim community the Kwara state government offered church leaders three million naira (US$25,600) and ordered the congregation to relocate.

Church leaders apparently rejected the order, saying they had spent nearly seven times that much to construct the church building.

DESCENDING ARSONISTS

A CAN representative, Reverend Cornelius Fawenu, said the arsonists descended on the church less than 48 hours after the Town Planning Development Authority (TPDA) issued the relocation order. He told Nigerian media that the church was torched while Christians were at another location for their Sunday worship service because of the controversies over the location of the church building.

"As peace-loving citizens, we are expecting a timely intervention of the government on this matter," he said. He added that if the "the perpetrators of this sacrilegious act” are not detained "and the concerned church adequately compensated" his group "we be left with no other option than to believe that Kwara State is a state whereby everybody is at liberty to visit their fellow human beings with jungle justice."

It comes at a time of concern over growing tensions between Muslims and Christians in Nigeria. Christians comprise some 40 percent of the country's mainly Muslim population of over 138 million people, according to estimates.

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