Boko Haram: Catholic Church Counts Losses
…Says 500 Members Killed So Far
BEVERLY HILLS, September 13, (THEWILL) - The Catholic Church is presently counting its losses as a result of the Boko Haram insurgency.
On Saturday, the Church said it has lost over 500 of its members to the insurgency, including over 170 children.
According to the Church, over 500 women have been made widows and over 1,500 children have become orphans since the beginning of the crisis five years old insurgency.
Disclosing this in Maiduguri, the Borno State capital, at a media briefing, the Director of Catholic Social Communications, Maiduguri Diocese of the church, Rev, Fr. Gideon Obasogie, listed the number of people lost by the church to the insurgency to include over 500 , including over 170 children with 500 becoming widows and 1,500 orphans, while over 90,000 others were displaced as over 50 churches and rectories were destroyed.
He lamented that the churches in Pulka, Bama, Gamboru Ngala, Maffa, Gubio, Damasak, Madayi, Baga, Pulka, Gwoza, Madagali, Gulak, Shuwa, Michika, Bazza, Mishara and Mubi numbering over 100 parishes, churches, outstations ; local churches and small Christian communities have been under siege .He also disclosed that some local churches in Potiskum and Damaturu, both in Yobe state have been adversely affected.
According to him, “The Church in Chakawa, an outstation of St. Denis was attacked during Sunday service, some time in January 25, where the church was burnt down and over 60 members met their death.
“The Minor Seminary in Shuwa, was attacked in February 26. The school was burnt down, but thanks to God, no seminarian was killed.”
On the effect of the attacks on the church, he said : “The Bishop Most Rev. Dr. Oliver Dashe Doeme had formed a widows association to make them self- sustaining and to protect them from their host communities. Most times the weak widows fall prey to their host.
“The St. Judith's Widows Association (established as a result of the growing widows) is a diocesan initiative to seeing to the assistance of these poor widows, both spiritually and otherwise. It is heart arching to see the alarming number of widows, hear their stories and see the kind of life situation they find themselves.
“The diocese is bringing them together, that they may have a platform to share their challenges, and to assist them in whatever way possible; to make them self -sustaining. Before now, we had an empowerment workshop for a couple of them and the feedback was glorious.”
According to him, Yobe, Adamawa and Borno, all under emergency rule, which make up the Catholic Diocese of Maiduguri have “for some time now not only become a theatre of violence but have snowballed into an abode of terrorists and blood.'
He maintained that “The adverse effects of these incessant attacks of Boko Haram on churches, rectories and on the faithful can be seen clearly in the dwindling number and the mass exodus of people from the area.'
According to him, ' Every aspect of the diocese is shrinking by the day . The number of masses celebrated in large parishes has drastically reduced.
“Lately the terrorists occupied St. Denis Catholic Church in Madagali. They have occupied cities and towns, conscripting youths to become terrorists. They have extended up to Bama a town very close to Maiduguri. Catholic faithful are leaving for safety, the church in Maiduguri is really facing a serious moment of fierce persecution. They for now are threatening to conquer Maiduguri city the capital of Borno state.”
On the effect of the insurgency on the church's school in the area, which include 23 primary schools and 10 secondary schools, the cleric listed the affected schools to include St. Joseph 's Minor Seminary, Shuwa; St. Joseph Nursery and Primary School Gamboru Ngala and St. Michael's Nursery and Primary School. Maiduguri .
Lamenting the closure of schools in the area due to incessant terrorists attacks, he noted that over 15 schools are affected with many people relocating to different parts of the country therefore decimating the schools's population.
Obasogie also lamented the absence of teachers in the face of the insurgency. “Some schools had to retrench teachers in order to meet up with the payment of salaries. For some schools, the salaries had to be slashed down as the school fees could not pay the salaries.
“Regarding their safety a lot of teachers are leaving in fears. Sometimes we watch the circumstances and the security situation. Where the threats are high we close down the schools for a while, then resume when the conditions are better.
“The students are faring well, but the meagre number is quite discouraging. A lot of them are leaving in crippling fear. For some of them, because their parents are workers and have to live in the towns to earn their living, they have no option but live with the parents. Given the option, many would want to be out of the environment.”