Christians in Kano are engaged in a hot dispute with the police over the actual number of their members killed by Muslims in a recent attack in the state

The Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, and the Police Command in Kano State, are currently engaged in a dispute over the figure of Christians killed at Sheka in Kombotso Local Government Area of the state on 22 February 2013. While reacting to media reports that 13 people were killed by gunmen suspected to be members of the Boko Haram sect, Kano State Commissioner of Police, Musa Daura, confirmed the incident but claimed that only eight people were slaughtered by the Islamic militants.

Reacting to Daura’s claim, CAN chairman in Kano, Bishop Ransome Bello, insisted that 13 Christians were killed in the attack. Brandishing a list of the victims, Bello challenged the police authorities to provide the names of the eight people they claimed were killed for clarification, and threatened to make his own list public if the argument persisted. “I insist the number of Christians who were shot dead in that raid were 13. We have the record, their names and places of birth, and we may be tempted to publish them in full if the argument on this figure continues,” Bello stated.

Daura described media reports of 13 victims as misleading and unfounded, even as he denied being contacted by any individual or group on the issue. He added that about 10 p.m. on 22 February, a distress call was received at the police Control Room that unknown gunmen attacked and killed innocent people in Sheka Madaiki, a suburb of Kano. “Based on that ugly incident, armed security men were deployed to the scene, and a search was conducted around the vicinity of the attack. The security agents discovered eight dead bodies, while a number of arrests were made; and we intend to make the outcome of the investigations public,” Daura said.

On 22 February, 13 factory workers identified as Christians at Sheka, Sharada Phase III in Kumbotso Local Government Area of Kano State, were murdered in their compound because they refused to join the Muslim evening prayers. This magazine gathered that already, the national secretariat of CAN has opened up investigation into the killings.

An eyewitness told this medium that the killers, presumed to be Boko Haram terrorists, stormed a compound in Sheka at about 7 p.m. “The occupants of that compound are mostly factory workers, and they are Christians. The gunmen who came in a taxi asked if they were not observing the evening Muslim prayers; and when they confirmed their victims were Christians, they started killing them, sparing only the female and children. After the attack, I counted at least 13 dead bodies.” Security agencies, according to the source, later came and evacuated the bodies, while the few of them that survived the attack fled the area and vowed never to return.

Bello has been in a very bad mood, not only because of the killings but what he described as the nonchalant attitude of the state government to the incident. Bello, who is also the General Overseer of Calvary Life Assembly, said he has handed over the matter to CAN’s national leadership, adding that judging by what is happening, it has become obvious that Christians are no longer safe in Kano.

“Reports of the attack reaching us disclosed that on that fateful Saturday at about 7 p.m., Muslim faithful were conducting their prayer close to the affected compound occupied by Christian families, when two taxi cabs stopped in front of the compound and the occupants, who all concealed their arms, dashed into the complex and demanded to know why the residents were not part of the 7 p.m. Muslim prayers.” The residents, according to Bello, responded that they were Christians and so could not be part of the Muslim gathering. At that point, they separated the men from their wives and children and shot them dead on the spot after ordering the women and children into their homes.

“The 13th victim, who hid in a dark alley in the compound, surrendered himself, following threats by the gunmen to visit the same fate on the women and children if any man was found shielded,” Bello recounted.

Christians, he said, were worried over the silence of the relevant authorities in the state, including the government, on such high-profile murder. “Even though we believe it is the handiwork of extremists, who do not see the reason why the Muslim North should accommodate Christians, we are really worried that nobody from the government has deemed it right to console the family of those that were killed,” Bello lamented. He added that government should show more concern, like it has always done when Muslims are affected.

—Maduabuchi Nmeribeh/Kano

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