Tension in Katsina over planned demolition of church

CAN, others intervene

A SERIOUS religious crisis looms in Mataazu in Mataazu Local Government Area of Katsina State over a plan to demolish over 99-year-old Evangelical Church Winning All (ECWA) Church Headquarters Mission by the Katsina State Urban and Regional Planning Board (KSURPB).

   The Board had issued a three-day demolition notice to the church (formerly called Evangelical Church of West Africa) just as the state government is said to be preparing to construct a road that will pass through the church compound which also has a school and staff quarters.

  However, the President of Christian Association of Nigeria, Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor; ECWA President, Rev. Jeremiah Gado and President of Tarayyar Masihiyawan Nigeria (Hausa, Fulani and Kanuri Christians), General Ishaku Ahmed Dikko (retd), have vowed to resist the action, which they described as “pure persecution of Christians.”

  A member of ECWA church told journalists in Abuja that the planned demolition is already generating tension that could cause religious crises.

A memo conveying the ultimatum entitled: “Stop Notice” from the Katsina State Urban and Regional Planning Board, signed by one Hussain A. Lawal (Development Control Manager) for General Manager dated January 6 2015, sent to ECWA Trustees accused the Church of building without the necessary legal requirements of planning permission from KSURPB or in violation of such permission.

  The memo obtained by journalists in Abuja reads, “You are hereby advised to stop all the development work at Matazu ECWA Church. It is believed that you are proceeding with development of the site without the necessary legal requirements of planning permission from Katsina State Urban and Regional Planning Board or in violation of such permission.

 “If you are developing the site without planning permission, or in contravention of conditions of such permission granted, you are committing an offence. In receipt of this notice, you should stop such development work with immediate effect and present a formal application for planning permission to the Development Control immediately.

  “Your application must include three sets of all plans including clear site/location plans and a photocopy of the Certificate of Occupancy or any document of ownership and your current tax clearance certificate. At the time of issuance of this notice, the stage of your development is seven (7) courses of cement construction.

  “Failure to act within three (3) days of this notice may result in further action by the Board. This notice will cease to have effect only after the issuance of planning permission by the Katsina State Urban and Regional Planning Board.”

Meanwhile, the indigenous Hausa/Fulani Christians in Matazu LGA have written to Governor Ibrahim Shema appealing for a re-visitation of the proposal of a road to be constructed through ECWA Mission Compound by Matazu LG.

  Spokesperson of the group, Dr. Yunusa M. Matazu said, “The proposed road will only succeed in dividing the compound into two as the compound is not a thoroughfare as such leading to nowhere.   

  “We contributed money and fenced the school and Staff Quarters to prevent theft and sexual harassment facing both staff and students within the compound. Therefore the proposed road will open the compound to unauthorized persons thereby exposing the Staff and Students to security risks. We hope Your Excellency will use your good office to intervene on this matter and stop the construction of the road. This will cement the already existing peaceful living atmosphere within the community.”

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