1 Die, 5 Sustain Injuries In Borno Clash Over Church Demolition

A move by government officials to demolish a church over an alleged violation of land use law led to a violent clash that claimed a life and left five others injured.

One person has been killed while five others sustained injuries in a clash between officials of Borno Geographic Information Service (BOGIS) and residents of Maiduguri on Thursday Aug. 5, officials said.

The clash happened when worshippers resisted demolition bulldozers following a decision by BOGIS officials to demolish the church after leadership of the church allegedly failed to provide title documents.

It has become a norm for the newly transformed ministry of land and survey (now BOGIS) to enforce the laws governing the land administration and punish those given repeated notices.

BOGIS has since its creation in 2019 enforced stringent measures as it sanitises the badly abused land administration in the state. Several properties have been demolished over alleged violations.

BOGIS officials led by their chief executive, Engineer Bababe, arrived at the premises of the EYN church in the company of the government-owned youth vigilante group best known as C-JTF.

Trouble started when members of the C-JTF allegedly seized the phones of some of the locals that were videotaping the demolition exercise. The locals later began to haul stones at the BOGIS officials even as the armed C-JTF moved to protect the latter.

Shots were fired and six persons dropped down. It was later found out that only five survived the bullet that hit them. One died instantly. The Borno State government condemned the clash, blaming the two sides for taking the laws into their own hands.

A statement by Isa Gusau, media adviser to Babagana Zulum, the Governor of Borno State, said a committee has been set up to investigate the real cause of the bloody clash.

“The Governor condemned in strong terms, the firing of gunshots by a member of the security task force as well as some persons who hurled stones at the task force during an encounter on Thursday,” Gusau’s statement read.

The statement confirmed that “One person died and five persons are currently hospitalized.” Gusau said the “Governor also called the chairman of the Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN in Borno State, Bishop Mohammed Naga and spoke with him to commiserate with the Christian community and leadership and family of the EYN church in Borno.”

He said the governor was billed to have a meeting with the leadership of CAN at 5:30 p.m. today at the Government House in Maiduguri. “The Governor also directed the deputy governor, Umar Kadafur to visit the hospital where five injured persons are receiving treatment, to empathize with them and also to take over the cost of their treatment.”

“A collusion happened on Wednesday when officials of BOGIS, alongside a joint security ta, the task force went to church for regulation of land administration and urban development measures, some of which have affected worship centres (mosques and churches) built without obedience to laid down regulations,” Governor Zulum’s spokesman said.

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Abdulkareem Haruna

Abdulkareem Haruna is a Nigerian journalist who has provided extensive coverage of the Lake Chad conflict in north-eastern Nigeria for over a decade. A graduate of English Language with a Diploma in Mass Communications. He previously worked as an assistant editor with Premium Times and Leadership Newspaper. Haruna has a strong knowledge of the Northeast and follows the trends in the region closely.

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