AbdulGafar Alabelewe, Kaduna
Bishop of the Zaria Anglican Diocese, Abiodun Ogunyemi has lambasted Archbishop of Kaduna Province, Anglican Diocese, Buba Lamido for apologising to Governor Nasir Ahmad El-Rufai over plan to demolish St. George Anglican Church, Sabon Gari, Zaria, by the state government.
Bishop Ogunyemi who described the said apology to Governor El-Rufai as a political gimmick ahead of 2023, however, stated categorically that, El-Rufai can never be President of Nigeria.
Kaduna State chapter of Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) had in September claimed that the state government issued a seven-day quit notice to the 110-year-old church to enable the government redevelop Sabo Gari Market.
Officials of the Kaduna State Urban Planning Development Agency (KASUPDA) had claimed that the notice came from the Governor’s office.
Meanwhile, a statement by the Special Adviser on Media and Communication to the Governor, Muyiwa Adekeye, had quoted the Archbishop Lamido to have apologised to the Governor, for the social media campaigns that tried to turn the issue of the redevelopment of Sabon-Garin Zaria market into a religious matter.
Adekeye quoted the Archbishop as distancing the Anglican Church ‘’from this campaign that has been whipping up baseless allegations of religious bigotry, explaining that the church sees itself and the government as partners.’’
He quoted Lamido further as saying that ‘’the meeting has afforded us a welcome chance to clarify matters and recalibrate our relationship in a mutual commitment to the peace and progress of Kaduna State, and harmony in its diverse communities. We are grateful for the opportunity to remove the cobwebs of misunderstanding in an atmosphere of mutual respect.”
However, apparently disturbed by the development, the Bishop of the Zaria Anglican Diocese, Abiodun Ogunyemi, Zaria Diocese was not surprised about the views and apologies expressed by Archbishop Lamido because he had always compromised truth and Christian standards.
Bishop Ogunyemi in a statement he published on the Diocese’ website read that, “The Bishop and the people of Zaria Diocese are not surprised about the views and apologies expressed by Archbishop Lamido at the Governor’s office yesterday the 12th of November 2019 because Bishop Lamido is known to always compromise Christian standards and the truth.
“Like we wrote few days ago this is the Bishop that sold three very precious landed properties of Wusasa Diocese to some Muslims. These properties were acquired by missionaries in the late 1800s. These great legacies have been lost forever by the Wusasa community.
“Besides at one of the meetings of Northern bishops, Bishop Lamido brought a Muslim governorship candidate with money to bribe the house of Bishops to vote for this man against Governor El Rufai. His antecedents when it comes to standing for the church speak volume.
“The diocese of zaria is not at war with the Governor and we are not religious bigots as stated by Bishop Lamido in the government house. We are only fighting for our right. Nobody can stop us from fighting for our right. Besides, Prophets do not apologize to Kings but Kings apologies to Prophets.
“Nobody can propose to demolish our cathedral and we will keep quiet or apologise.
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“A letter was written by KASUPDA on the orders of the Governor to us to quit the cathedral premises within 7 days and we responded in the best possible ways together with CAN and other Christian organisations all over the world.
“Bishop Lamido deliberately avoided CAN in his humiliating visit to the government house. Rather than apologising to the Governor, the Governor should apologise to the church and the general public for embarrassing himself with the quit notice.
“The Diocese of Zaria is disassociating herself completely from the humiliating visit and the apologies therein. The Governor should stop embarrassing himself with demolition of churches in any part of Kaduna state.
“Any attempt to demolish our shops or our properties in sabongari market is evil, callous and wicked and will be associated with the wrath of God. The whole of the sabongari market is our land acquired in the early 1900s with genuine C of O which we have submitted to the state govt for recertification.
“Any attempt by El Rufai to demolish any of our properties in that market will be a direct assault on the church in the whole of Nigeria. All these visits and apologies is planned by Lamido and Fearon to score a political point for the Governor because he is being prepared for 2023 elections.
“The Governor should know that he will never be President of Nigeria. I speak prophetically as a servant of the living God. Let fake Christians and religious spies placed in our church by a particular religion be aware of the consequences of their actions because heaven is watching.
“May the Lord expose these spies in our midst on Jesus Name. In fact their actions now show very clearly that they are working for an interest against the church. The Lord in His mercies will raise help to deliver His church from fake Christians, fake converts and novices.” The Bishop said.
Meanwhile, Governor El-Rufai while relieving Archbishop Lamido on Tuesday had recalled that in 2016, Kaduna state government decided to preserve Saint George’s Cathedral when it chose a private company to fund the redevelopment of the Sabon-Gari market.
‘’Over 40 structures that were to be affected by the exercise were identified and assessed for compensation. Three years later, after it became clear that the private developer could not raise the funds, KDSG decided to ask its market development company to fund the project.
’Following this renewed push to rebuild the market, notices were sent to the affected properties, on which compensation had been paid.’
’The records show that St. George’s Cathedral itself was not subject to the eviction notice, as only the shops attached to it were affected.’’ He said.
The governor said he was shocked when he learnt that a social media campaign was being waged against him on the matter.
He advised that, leaders have a responsibility to ensure that people should not mobilise along ethnic and religious sentiments or turn faith into a weapon of division.
The Governor urged the Anglican leaders to thoroughly investigate the rumour of St. George’s Church planned demolition and the manner in which a simple matter was turned into another occasion for religious sentiment.
He promised that officials of the Kaduna State government will support the investigation with necessary documents.