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MISSION WATCH: Muslim Authorities Threaten To Seize Mission School In Nigeria

ICC Note

Authorities in Eastern Nigeria are threatening to seize properties of Christian mission school.

Friday, 07 September 2007 NIGERIA (BosNewsLife) — Native missionaries in eastern Nigeria on Friday, September 7, were trying to prevent Muslim authorities of taking over a mission school.

Gabriel Barau, the founder of the group Missionary Crusaders Ministries (MCM), said in a statement that Muslim officials “threatened to seize a piece of property bought by MCM for a school of missions and discipleship.”

US-based Christian Aid Mission (CAM), which supports Nigeria-based MCN, confirmed to BosNewsLife that government officials came to Barau last weekend “and told him to start building a wall immediately or they would take away two-thirds of the land he has bought for MCN.”

CAM did not provide more details on the exact location of the mission school, apparently for security reasons. Since 1983, MCM has been working in northern and central parts of eastern Nigeria , providing aid and evangelizing among local Koma people, despite reported threats from Muslim officials and militants in the area.

“BIGGEST THREAT”

Missionary workers told BosNewsLife that the “biggest threat” to MCM’s operations “is Islam.” In May, Nigerians elected a Muslim president, Umaru Yar’Adua, who served as governor of the remote northern Katsina state since May 1999. He took over from Olusegun Obasanjo, a Christian, whose election in 1999 ended a period of military rule. Obasanjo won a second term in 2003, but an effort to keep him in office for a third term was blocked by parliament

Christian native missionaries have suggested that President Yar’ Adua’s election has emboldened authorities in Muslim states who they, claim oppose Christian projects such as MCM’s mission school. “Muslim leaders now govern the state where [MSM founder] Gabriel Barau works,” CAM added.

He was “recently visited by the land commissioner, who informed him that the state will seize [the MCM] land unless he builds a wall around the property, which will serve to lay claim to it and silence authorities. A wall is urgently needed, [but] each foot costs $15,” a fortune in this impoverished region.

CAM said it is currently raising funds among supporters to prevent “a Muslim occupation” of MCM properties. Officials were not immediately available for comment. Nigeria ‘s central government has made clear it wants to respect the country’s democratic foundations, but human rights groups say that those are not always observed in Muslim states amid attempts there to impose ‘Sharija’, or Islamic Law. (BosNewsLife’s MISSION WATCH is a regular update on Christian missionaries and groups working in difficult circumstances. With BosNewsLife’s Stefan J. Bos and BosNewsLife Research)