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BosNewsLife – Security forces in Nigeria’s largest northern city, Kano, are without a church after local authorities and Islamic law enforcers demolished the building as part of an ongoing campaign to “Islamicize the state,” news reports said Tuesday, October 18, citing a church official.

The facility, estimated at 3 million naira ($22,892), was demolished by “officials of the Kano State Environmental Agency and Islamic law enforcers known as Hisba,” Compass Direct news agency quoted the church’s 54-year old Pastor Michael Agbahime as saying.

The Deeper Life Bible Church was reportedly located in the Kano State Police Command barrack opposite the Nigerian Air Force Base before officials ordered its destruction on August 4. Officers and their families “now worship in the rain or under the heat of the sun” and membership has dropped from 150 to 100 since the destruction of the building, reported Compass Direct, citing the pastor.

Nigerian police authorities earlier permitted the church to build the sanctuary for law enforcement personnel in Kano , the administrative center of Nigeria ‘s Kano State , Compass Direct said. Pastor Agbahime suggested his church and other buildings were destroyed “in order to create an Islamic state where Christians have been obliterated.” Officials were not immediately available for comment, but the Nigerian federal government has made clear it wants to preserve religious rights in the country.

He said he filed a complaint with Nigerian police and the Christian Association of Nigeria, an umbrella organization that handles church and state issues. The latest incident has reportedly added to worries among minority Christians about ongoing religious violence in the area.

Pastor Agbahime said “such persecution has driven down” membership of 12 [Christian] congregations in Kano city from 6,000 members four years ago to only 2,000 today. Most Christians in the city, he said, “have been either killed or displaced. Two pastors were killed in May last year when Muslim extremists attacked Christians in the city.”

Religious attacks increased in Nigeria since 1999 in especially several northern and central states as they began to introduce the Islamic, or ‘Shariah’ Penal Code. Analysts have linked the bloodshed to both religious and political aspirations among Muslim militants and officials.

Some church sources say the death toll since 1999 could be as high as 10,000 while the Committee of Rehabilitation and Reconciliation of Internally Displaced People reportedly has said that over 50,000 people died in religious violence. It remains unclear why the reported death toll figures are different, but human rights watchers say it is very difficult to get reliable information because many areas are isolated in the troubled African nation.

“Christians in Kano state are facing difficulties because of the sharia, the Islamic law,” Pastor Agbahime was quoted as saying. “Muslims here have taken upon themselves to enforce the Islamic law on us, the Christians, whether we like it or not. We have lands we bought, and after developing these properties the church buildings were burned down by the Muslims,” he claimed.

Pastor Agbahime added that trying to air a Christian radio program in Kano is “unthinkable,” and that church officials do not seek permits for church buildings because the government would never approve their applications. He said he was surprised that state should destroy a sanctuary located on land under control of the Nigerian federal government…[Go To Full Story]