Suspected arsonists burnt down a Living Faith Church on Wednesday December 12, destroying property worth millions of naira.
According to the provincial Pastor of the church, Timothy Olaniyan, he got a distress call at about five in the evening informing him about the incident at his church on Airport road, Ilorin.
Reports claim the church and a group were involved in a land dispute and recently the co- secretary of the Nigeria Inter-Religious Council (NIREC), Prof. Ish’aq Oloyede had visited the site with some members of the group.
“We had reported the matter to the Commissioner of Police and wrote a letter to Gov. Abdulfattah Ahmed, who directed his Deputy Chief of staff, Mr Leke Ogungbe, to handle the matter.
“Also one Sharia Court judge, Alhaji Saliu Mohammed, came and said that the Emir of Ilorin instructed him to mediate in the matter in order to ensure peace.
“At about 8.pm on Monday, we noticed some strange people flashing touch light to the church from a distance.
“Again, we reported to the police only for us to wake up to see a burnt church on Wednesday morning,’’ he said.
Ogungbe, who visited the scene, appealed for calm and urged the church members not to embark on reprisal attack. “It is quite unfortunate that the incident happened, even the security agency is aware of my mediating role,’’ he said.
He assured the public that government would ensure security of lives and property in the state.
Muyideen Akorede, the Senior Special Assistant to the Governor on Media, also said that government had directed security agents to investigate the incident with a view to allowing the law to take its full course.
The disturbing incident drew a number of reactions. The Kwara chapters of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) and the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) condemned the burning of the church.
CAN Secretary in the state, Rev. Cornelius Fawenu, told NAN that the association would demand that justice be done.
“We are not going to lie low as we did in the past; CAN would explore all means to get to the root of the arson,” Fawenu said.
The NLC chairman in the state, Umar Akanbi, also described the incident as unfortunate, saying: “We don’t need this kind of thing in Kwara.’’
The NLC boss called for religious tolerance and understanding between adherents of the different religions.
In his reaction, the Chairman of the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS), Kwara chapter, Shakir Akorode, said it was dastardly for anyone to burn down a sacred place of worship.
“I don’t believe that any sane person would commit such a dastardly act. I am sure the fire outbreak is an accident.
“In Kwara State, everybody lives in harmony with one another. Government should investigate the fire and fish out the culprits, ’’ Akorode said.
He asked the youths in the state not to take the law into their hands.