BOKO HARAM: CHURCHES CANCEL SUNDAY SERVICES IN BORNO
The inauguration ceremony and Democracy Day celebration in Maiduguri, Borno State capital yesterday was done under heavy security, even as many churches suspended their Sunday services following rumour of planned attacks by the Boko Haram men.
The city was gripped with fear at the weekend as rumour made the round that Boko Haram was planning an offensive to disrupt the inauguration ceremony, a development which prompted many churches in the metropolis to suspend their services yesterday.
At Wulari/Jerusalem, Railway area, Bulunkutu, Damboa Road and Bayan NNPC, most of the churches were shut and guarded by soldiers and mobile policemen. Some churches also were compelled to adjust their service time to 7 am to allow their members return home before the commencement of the inauguration ceremony.
Commenting on the development, the pastor in charge of No 1 Assembly of The Apostolic Church told Daily Sun that his church decided to hold the Sunday service early so as not to put members in danger. 'As you can see, the town is not very safe and it is just appropriate for any church leader to be reasonable and realistic. We took the decision to hold one and half hour service early than our usual time so that our people can return home in time because of the threat,' he disclosed.
It was gathered that the leadership of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) in the state had directed churches to either suspend or hold their services earlier due to the security challenges in the state. But the CAN state chairman, Revd Yuguda Mdurvwa could not be reached to confirm this, as his mobile phone was switched off when the reporter called.
Combined team of soldiers, anti-riot policemen and men of the State Security Services (SSS) as well as police anti-bomb squad were deployed to the venue of the ceremony, while the anti-terrorist squad of the Police, with soldiers were seen patrolling the streets of Maiduguri. The personnel of the NDLEA, Customs, Civil Defence Corps and other security agencies in the state also complemented the efforts of the Police and the army.
While taking the oath of office and allegiance, the new governor, Alhaji Kashim Shettima said the occasion called for sober reflection. He said the policy thrust of his administration would be tailored towards the policies and directives of the All Nigerian Peoples Party(ANPP).
Shettima promised to restore peace to the state, pursue equitable distribution of resources, restructure the civil service for optimum performance and create employment through lifting of embargo on employment in the civil service and through agriculture.
He promised to be honest, transparent and accountable to the people. He also pledged to accommodate all but warned that opportunists, sycopants and blackmail would not have a place in his administration. Fewer people attended the ceremony.