AFRICA/NIGERIA - More than 70 churches destroyed in the state of Benue

Saturday, 27 April 2013

Makurdi (Agenzia Fides) - The Catholic Church stressess a gloomy picture of the situation in the state of Benue, in central Nigeria: the social and religious crisis that crosses the region, more than 70 churches have been destroyed, and thousands of people, especially in remote villages, are left without a place of worship. This was reported in a note sent to Fides Agency by Felix Apine, Coordinator of the Commission "Justice, Development and Peace" of the Diocese of Makurdi, Benue state capital. The note informs that 30 churches that were in the western Gwer area have been burned or completely destroyed, and the faithful have fled to other villages. Another 40 have been razed to the ground in the area of Guma. The destruction also touches some primary and secondary schools belonging to the diocese, while volunteers and catechists are patrolling different areas in order to assess the damage.
The Christian Protestant Archbishop Yiman Orkwar, President of the "Christian Association of Nigeria," confirming the destruction of churches and schools, said that the budget of the destroyed buildings could still rise. In the state of Benue, breeders belonging to the Fulani ethnic group, mostly Muslims, have attacked villages inhabited by ethnic Tiv farmers, mostly Christians.
On the recent escalation of attacks by Fulani farmers to Tiv, causing over 30 deaths, the Archbishop noted "with dismay the destruction of lives and property, by Fulani herdsmen and unknown men, with sophisticated weaponry." What is happening to Christians "are not mere accidents, but is the result of the work of Boko Haram jihadists and Fulani jihadists," he said, calling the institutions to defend the population. "We are not dealing with clashes - he said - but attacks suffered by Christian farmers." (PA) (Agenzia Fides 27/04/2013)