The Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN has begun to count its losses following an attack by the Boko Haram sect in Damaturu, Yobe State. CAN has said that six of its churches were burnt by the extremists.
The churches are the Assemblies of God Church, St. Mary Catholic Church, Living Faith Church, EYN Church, Cherubim and Seraphim Church, and two churches belonging to the ECWA.
CAN President, Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor disclosed that at least four of its members were killed by co-ordinated Fedayeen attacks, one at a college in Maiduguri, the Borno State capital while Mujahideen gunmen attacked a church in Kaduna, shooting two female worshippers to death.
The CAN president lamented that Islamic sects in the north had constantly launched assault on Christians, saying the situation was becoming worrisome and needed to be nipped in the bud.
Oritsejafor called on the Federal Government to demonstrate the political will to deal decisively with the increasing wave of terrorism in the country, arguing that the much needed investment-friendly environment might be a pipe dream if there is no peace in the nation.
He urged the Federal Government to muster the required political will to deal with the incessant killings of innocent citizens in parts of the North, saying that “we just cannot continue to put our wrong foot forward all the time and expect investors to come and invest their money in an unsafe environment.”
Oritsejafor expressed shock at the latest round of attacks by Islamic sects in Yobe, Maiduguri and Kaduna State, saying that, “reports reaching me from different parts of the North have shown that several innocent lives have again been sent to their early graves and property worth millions of naira had either been torched or vandalised in another orgy of religious violence.”
The cleric said the leadership of CAN would soon convene an emergency meeting and come up with a more comprehensive reaction to the latest round of violence.
Meanwhile, Human Rights Watch said on Tuesday that the Boko Haram attack which led to the death of many people in Damaturu and Potiskum in Northern Nigeria on 4 November, were an indefensible attack on human life.
The Rights Group stated in an e-mail message to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in New York on Tuesday that since the beginning of 2011, Boko Haram had been implicated in attacks in which more than 425 people had been killed.
It identified those killed by the sect attack to include police officers, soldiers, community leaders, politicians, Islamic clerics, Christian pastors, and church members.
According to the rights group, the recent attacks resulted in the highest death toll in a single day since Boko Haram began its campaign of violence in Nigeria in July 2009.
“Boko Haram has once again demonstrated its utter disregard for human life.
“The authorities should act swiftly to bring to justice those responsible for these terrible crimes and for earlier attacks that left hundreds dead,” the statement quoted Corinne Dufka, Senior West Africa Researcher at Human Rights Watch, as saying.
It added that the latest attacks, including an apparent suicide car bombing, targeted the police state headquarters in Damaturu, the capital of Yobe as well as police barracks, government buildings, banks, and at least six churches.
The statement said the rights watch had documented dozens of attacks by the sect members over the past year, including attacks on police stations, military facilities, prisons, banks, beer halls, and churches.
According to it, the group recalled that on August 26, a suicide car bomb attack at the United Nations headquarters in Abuja, the nation’s capital, killed 24 people and left more than 100 others injured.
“The Nigerian authorities need to ensure that all law enforcement operations in response to Boko Haram are conducted in accordance with international human rights standards.
“The most effective way to counter the abhorrent tactics employed by groups like Boko Haram is to scrupulously adhere to respect for human rights and the rule of law,” the statement also quoted Dufka.