West & Central Africa

Security tightened as Nigeria’s Christians go to church at Easter

 

Security forces In Nigeria are poised for further Islamist attacks on churches and Christian communities. They have deployed extra troops and police in the Middle belt and north eastern states over the Easter period.

“The Command is leaving nothing to chance to ensure we have violent-free Easter celebration, you are aware we have been raiding flash points during which a number arrests of suspects were made and a number of weapons of mass destruction intercepted, this is all part of the efforts to usher in a hitch-free Easter,”  said Kano State Police commissioner, Musa Daura.

The Department of State Security announced earlier this week, that it had foiled and attempt by Boko Haram Islamic terror group to bomb the British and American Embassies in Abuja, Nigeria.

Churches in Jos, Nigeria, have been told to be extra vigilant during the Easter festive season. In addition to the barricades in front of church buildings, they have been told to use body scanners to check worshippers coming into services.

Jos North Chairman of the Christian association of Nigeria, the Rev Canon Nenman Gowon, told Global Christian News that “the Inspector General of Police has already issued alerts to the police commands in the states of the country and the State commissioners of Police have asked Christians to be very vigilante at this Easter period.”

He said that in the town of Saminaka, Kaduna State, “Fulani Herdsmen have been arrested carrying guns and other weapons.”

Rev Henry Okeke, Curate of the Trinity Anglican Church in Jos said, “Christians should not take anything for granted and never assume that it will not happen to us since we have prayed about it. Yes must pray, but we must also be vigilant. That is what God expects us to do. Christians must avoid taking undue risks and go to volatile areas”

Mr Ibrahim Choji, the community head in Chwel Nyap Jos, one of the areas that has suffered multiple attacks since 2001, said, “We are doing whatever we can to protect our communities. We have met as community leaders but these are just reactive. What Muslims need to do is to get to the root of radicalisation and stand against Imams who preach hatred and radical Islam.”

A UNICEF report says Boko Haram has escalated the use of female children to carry out bomb attacks while women suicide bombers have used toddlers to conceal their improvised explosive and carry out attacks in public places.

A military officer, speaking to Global Christian News on the condition of anonymity said, “We have lost many soldiers in the last one month from Boko Haram attacks and ambushes. . I am sure you have seen some of the attacks in the news. We are trying to contain the terrorists but churches must prepare also for any event because we cannot prevent all the attacks. You know that some Christian women also dress like Muslims even though they don’t use hijab but churches must be vigilant,” he said.

Captain Ikedichi Iweha, spokesman of the Military Joint Task Force in Kano, Northern Nigeria, said the military already has soldiers on alert in the city. “We are working very hard and as I speak with you now, military men deployed to the streets of Kano have been doubled, while the house-to-house search is still in progress.

Abdullahi Muhammadu, Commandant of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), said on Tuesday that 40,000 personnel will be deployed nationwide in addition to sniffer dogs, to maintain security during the Easter period.