Church demolition: Archbishop apologises to el-Rufai

The Archbishop of Kaduna Province,  Buba Lamido has apologised to Governor Nasir El Rufai for the social media campaigns that tried to turn the issue of the redevelopment of Sabon-Garin Zaria market into a religious matter.

In a statement issued by Mr Muyiwa Adekeye, Special Adviser on Media and Communication on Tuesday, Bishop Lamido expressed regret over the manner which the purported plan to demolish St George’s Cathedral of Sabon Garin Zari was handled.

Archbishop  Lamido, who led other Anglican Bishops from the North-West on a visit to Governor El-Rufai, further said that the church has no rift with the Kaduna state government.

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Archbishop Lamido, who is also the  Dean of the Church of Nigeria, Anglican Communion, and Bishop of Wusasa, Zaria, distanced the Anglican Church ‘’from this campaign that has been whipping up baseless allegations of religious bigotry, explaining that the church sees itself and the government as partners.’’

Lamido who spoke at a  closed-door meeting with el-Rufai expressed his gratitude to the governor for his decision to preserve St. George’s Cathedral.

The statement further said that the delegation had come to convey greetings from the Primate of the Church of Nigeria.

Adekeye quoted Lamido as saying that ‘’the meeting has afforded us a welcome chance to clarify matters and recalibrate our relationship in a mutual commitment to the peace and progress of Kaduna State, and harmony in its diverse communities”.

‘’We are grateful for the opportunity to remove the cobwebs of misunderstanding in an atmosphere of mutual respect,” the statement further quoted Archbishop Lamido.

Responding, Governor El Rufai recalled that in 2016,  Kaduna state government decided to preserve Saint George’s Cathedral when it chose a private company to fund the redevelopment of the Sabon-Gari market.

‘’Over 40 structures that were to be affected by the exercise were identified and assessed for compensation. Three years later, after it became clear that the private developer could not raise the funds, KDSG decided to ask its market development company to fund the project,’’ he said.

The governor  explained that  ‘’following this renewed push to rebuild the market, notices were sent to the affected properties, on which compensation had been paid.’’

El Rufai clarified that ‘’ the records show that St. George’s Cathedral itself was not subject to the eviction notice, as only the shops attached to it were affected.’’

The governor said he was shocked when he learnt that a social media campaign was being waged against him on the matter.

He advised that leaders have a responsibility to ensure that people should not mobilise along with ethnic and religious sentiments or turn faith into a weapon of division.

The governor urged the Anglican leaders to thoroughly investigate the rumour of St. George’s Church planned demolition and the manner in which a simple matter was turned into another occasion for religious sentiment.

He promised that officials of the Kaduna State government will support the investigation with necessary documents.

Fielding questions from the media after the meeting, Archbishop Lamido reiterated that there is no rift between the Anglican Church and the state government.

He argued that “in any place, you have misunderstood, even between families. And when you have such rifts, you dialogue, you talk  and that is what has brought us to see the governor.’’

The clergyman explained that ’the rift wasn’t caused by the Anglican Church. It could be individuals, it could be anybody, but certainly not by the Anglican church. ‘’

Archbishop Lamido further said that the Anglican Bishops “look forward to the development of Kaduna State, peaceful coexistence in Kaduna State and the growth and development of Nigeria which we are always praying for.

‘’And you know that in the Anglican church, daily we pray for the Government and our leaders. And that is what we will continue for the development of Nigeria.”

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