, 23 February, 2021 / 11:28 PM
Reports that the Holy Family Catholic Church in Kikwari village of Nigeria’s Archdiocese of Kaduna has been torched are false, the Priest in-charge has told ACI Africa in an interview.
In the Tuesday, February 23 interview, Fr. Bivang Thaddeus who is the Priest In-charge of St. Michael’s Pastoral Area where Holy Family Catholic Church falls under as an outstation makes reference to media reports claiming that Holy Family Catholic Church and two homes in Kikwari village had been attacked and razed.
“The information is false. The attack never happened. It is not true at all,” Fr. Bivang said, adding, “I do not know where this information came from but if they must give such information, shouldn’t they consult whoever it is that is in charge of the place? If it is a Church, there has to be a pastor.”
According to the member of the Clergy of Kaduna Archdiocese, false news about the burning of a church not only creates tension, but also causes “more wounds and injury.”
“When you talk like that, instead of creating healing, you are creating more wounds and injury. When Christians from all over begin to see such kind of information, the hatred against non-Christians increases,” Fr. Bivang said, still making reference to false media reports.
He went on to provide the contest of two separate attacks that took place more than two weeks ago in two villages within Kaduna State.
The February 6 attack that resulted in the loss of at least 19 lives happened in Kujeni and Kutemeshi villages located in Kajuru and Birnin Gwari local government areas of Kaduna State respectively. Several people in the two villages neighboring Kikwari village were left with bullet injuries.
Following this attack, residents of Kikwari fled their homes, Fr. Bivang told ACI Africa in the February 23 interview.
“The people of Kikwari are scattered,” he said, adding that some of the displaced persons are seeking shelter at Ungwan Barkonu within Kajuru Local Government Area of Kaduna State.
“Their life has not been easy. They find places where they can lay their heads and look for food to survive for a day,” said the Priest in-charge of St. Michael’s Pastoral Area in the Archdiocese of Kaduna.
Fr. Bivang, who has been serving in Kajuru Local Government Area since January 2017 expressed concerns about the general safety of the people of God in his pastoral jurisdiction saying, “There is so much insecurity. The situation is not any better for Priests.”
Government authorities are aware of the insecurity situation in the region but do “little or nothing” about it, the Nigerian Cleric bemoaned.
Making reference to the February 6 attack on Kujeni and Kutemeshi villages, Fr. Bivang said, “I was informed that some policemen were sent to stay there so as to reduce the level of insecurity. But from what I have gathered the Local Government Area Chairman has not settled them. No security personnel is there.”
“We have had a series of security meetings and at the end of it all, it doesn’t yield any fruits,” the Cleric regretted.
Highlighting the government’s message against reprisal attacks at the last gathering, Fr. Bivang told ACI Africa that it is difficult for people because “when you call on the security you need help they take time to respond and when they respond, they begin to give a thousand and one reasons why they can’t come to that locality.”
He urged the government to “constantly check on the people” rather than just having meetings.
“You don’t go to a place filled with this kind of situation, and after you hear about reprisal attacks or any news that isn’t good and you come here, you just want to meet with the people and talk,” Fr. Bivang lamented, adding, “I expect the government to come out and say they know about it and they will do something.”
Amid the challenging situation of insecurity and persecution, the member of the Clergy of Kaduna Archdiocese called on the people of God in his pastoral jurisdiction to be strong in faith.
“They should still hold onto this faith because all that we are experiencing could be a purifying moment or a moment for them to encounter what it means to be a Christian,” Fr. Bivang told ACI Africa, calling on the people of God to remember the residents of Kaduna Archdiocese in prayer.
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ACI Africa was officially inaugurated on August 17, 2019 as a continental Catholic news agency at the service of the Church in Africa. Headquartered in Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, this media apostolate will strive to facilitate the telling of Africa’s story by providing media coverage of Catholic events on the African continent, giving visibility to the activities of the Church across Africa where statistics show significant growth in numbers and the continent gradually becoming the axis of Catholicism. This is expected to contribute to an awareness of and appreciation for the significant role of the Church in Africa and over time, the realization of a realistic image of Africa that often receives negative media framing.
Father Don Bosco Onyalla
Editor-in-Chief, ACI Africa