Reports reaching us from Southern part of Kaduna State indicate that officials of the Nigerian Army in the area have committed atrocity as they reportedly shot dead six Christian worshipers on Sunday.
A witness, who gave his name as Christopher, told The Nation that the incident occurred at St. Peters Catholic Church Gidan-Waya area of Jama’a local government area of the state.
He said the soldiers allegedly shot the church’s security guards who mounted a temporary stop and search check point in front of their church during mass, adding that many other worshippers sustained various degrees of injuries.
“The clash occurred at about 10.00am when church service was on. A soldier approached the church’s watch men popularly known as Cadet and ordered them to dismantle the temporary check point during the church service, but the boys refused the order on the argument that church service was ongoing and that they would do as soon as service was over, but the soldier was dissatisfied with the explanation,” he said.
Christopher, who is a residence of Gidan-Waya, further stated that the soldier went back and mobilised his colleagues who stormed the church and started shooting at the local guards.
“The gunshots ended the church service. Women and youths immediately reacted to the shooting by confronting the soldiers as a result of which one Soldier and three civilians were injured,” Christopher said.
A resident who gave his name as Bulbs Jatau said: “Six people were killed, a flat occupied by some army personnel burnt while many people were injured.”
A lecturer at the college who did not want his name in print revealed that a 200-level student was among the people killed by the soldiers bullets.
“A soldier has a motorcycle he uses as a means of transportation. The cadet boys manning the Church during Mass had told him that each time there is Church programme, he should not increase the acceleration of his motorcycle but he refused to abide by what the boys told him. Today, he was passing during church Mass and the road was closed. He started shouting at the boys asking why they blocked the road, as the argument was ongoing, he returned to a check-point and mobilised other army personnel and they came shooting. As they were shooting, a certain man coming back from another church was hit by the bullet and he died instantly. One of the cadet boys was shot but he died at a hospital,” the lecture said.
Another witness, however, revealed that the situation has sparked a reaction from residents of the community as youths and women are protesting unclad, adding that the mobile policemen that were mobilised from Kafanchan shot tear-gas to disperse the protesters.
“The incident also turned violent as four people also dropped dead when the protesters blocked all roads leading to Abuja, Jos and Kafanchan in protest of the killing. All the checkpoints in the area have been dismantled and the military men have been withdrawn to Kafanchan. The soldiers have told the traditional ruler that they will come back in the night to search for their guns,” another resident said.
When the spokesperson for the 1 Mechanised Division, Kaduna, Col. Abdul Usman was contacted, he refused to answer his phone or reply the text message sent to him.
It was gathered that, some of the people that survived the clash are currently receiving treatment at a State General Hospital.
Recall that Rev. Fr Anselm Onyeka, a Catholic priest, has criticized the constant gathering of tithe from worshippers in some churches, describing the act as stealing from the people.