The Catholic Church in Sokoto has directed that all Masses in Sokoto metropolis be suspended until the curfew imposed by the State government is lifted.
Governor Aminu Waziri Tambuwal of Sokoto state imposed a 24-hour curfew following riots that erupted as a result of the arrest of suspects in the gruesome killing of Deborah Samuel, the student of the Shehu Shagari College of Education that was accused of alleged blasphemy.
The suspension of Masses is contained in a statement by Rev. Fr. Christopher A. Omotosho, Director, Directorate of Social Communications, Catholic Diocese of Sokoto, which confirmed attacks on some Catholic Churches and property, but dismissed as untrue, information that the residence of the Catholic Bishop of Sokoto Diocese, Most Reverend Matthew Hassan Kukah, was attacked.
The statement admitted that “during the protest, groups of youths led by some adults in the background attacked the Holy Family Catholic Cathedral at Bello Way, destroying the church glass windows, those of the Bishop Lawton Secretariat and vandalized a community bus parked within the premises. St. Kevin’s Catholic Church, Gidan Dere, Eastern By-pass, was also attacked and partly burnt; windows of the new hospital complex under construction in the same premises were shattered.”
The statement noted that “the hoodlums also attacked the Bakhita Centre located along Aliyu Jodi Road and burnt down a bus within the premises.”
The attackers, the statement pointed out, “were promptly dispersed by a team of Mobile Policemen before they could do further damage,” noting that Bishop Kukah has, in reaction, commended Gov. Tambuwal “for acting promptly by declaring the 24-hour curfew to stem the protests.”
Bishop Kukah “also commended the security forces for promptly rising to the occasion to prevent further damage at our facilities,” stressing that in all, no life was lost.
He also appealed to Christians “to remain law abiding and pray for the return of normalcy.”