By BosNewsLife Africa Service with additional reporting by BosNewsLife Special Correspondent Paul Jongas
in Nigeria and BosNewsLife's Stefan J. Bos
ABUJA, NIGERIA (BosNewsLife)-- The chief of an umbrella group representing different Nigerian denominations has urged the government to stop an alleged Islamists plan to "wipe out Christians" in Nigeria, where a church was attacked by angry Muslims shortly after a Christian preacher was hacked to death.
General Secretary of the Christian Association of Nigeria, Reverend Musa Asake, spoke amid reports that some 200 Muslim youth stormed St. Philip’s Catholic Parish in Baki Iku, close to Zuma Rock in Niger State, destroying properties.
Catholics praying inside the church were also attacked in the July 15 incident, as Muslims claimed that Friday was their day of prayer and that Chistians "only had right to worship on Sundays", several Nigerian media reported.
Priest Gobep Luka Sylvester, the vicar-general of the parish, said Muslim youths had left their mosque "after their Friday Jumat prayer and rushed to the Church premises, climbed the wall and destroyed everything in the Church," including "windows, the alter, musical instruments, the chapel".
He said that the "security man in the church premises was beaten to pulp" while "some women who were holding a prayer meeting were chased away." A seminarian who lives in the church complex "was also beaten up and chased away,” he added.
POLICE ARREST, INVESTIGATION
Sylvester said the attack had been reported to police who "claimed to have made some arrest and promised to investigate the matter."
On Christmas Day in 2012, Alhaji Kabiru Sokoto — a suspected member of Islamist terror group Boko Haram, reportedly detonated a bomb that killed several Catholics and passers-by at St. Theresa Catholic Church near St. Philips.
The latest violence came a week after preacher Eunice Olawale, of the Redeemed Christian Church of God, was hacked to death while she was evangelizing in a suburb of Abuja, the capital.
Asake said this wasn't the first killing and that believers may be forced to defend themselves. "From the way I see things happening, there is a grand plan to wipe out Christians in this country but by the grace of God it will not come to pass. That is why I am saying if the government is not going to protect us, then we have no choice but to protect ourselves."
'ENOUGH IS ENOUGH'
He warned that Christians "will not continue to fold...hands and accept being killed for no reason. These killings are going on as usual and we have got to a point to say ‘enough is enough.’ Everybody has to defend themselves."
Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari, a former military ruler, has pledged to crackdown on Muslim militant groups such as Boko Haram.
Observers say he scored a major diplomatic success in June 2015 when neighbouring countries agreed to Nigeria commanding a joint force to counter Boku Haram, rather than rotating the command among themselves.
Yet Christians argue not enough is done to tackle Islamic extremism, which has killed thousands of people in recent years.