If the soldiers stationed in Wusasa, Zaria had not been withdrawn, the attack on Evangelical Church Winning All, ECWA, on Sunday might have been averted, the church leaders has stated. But for providence, the attack would have also claimed the lives of 200 children, who were attending Sunday school, as at the time of the attack.
The indication was given by the Secretary, District Church Council, DCC, ECWA, Reverend Chris Dariya, when the Kaduna State governor, Patrick Ibrahim Yakowa, visited the area, to assess the level of destruction.
According to him, the Christian community in Zaria got wind of the impending attack, few days before that members of the Boko Haram were in Zaria, and that they allegedly met last Friday, where the decision to strike on Sunday, was said to have been taken.
He also said that Chairmen and Secretaries of Christian Association of Nigeria, (CAN), held a meeting on the issue, and that by last Saturday, preceding the attack, the military personnel that were drafted to maintain peace around the church were allegedly withdrawn. This, he said, made the Christian community in the vicinity to be apprehensive. Hear him: “We were cautioned on the fact that Boko Haram were already in Zaria.
We heard vividly there was a meeting on Friday and the Chairmen and Secretaries of CAN Zone 1 were actually invited for a meeting and that menber of Boko Haram were already in Zaria and they were going to strike on Sunday. Some of us were very concerned and thinking of what possible thing to do to avert such happenings. “I came back on Saturday from a meeting and drove into my office which is just behind (the Church), that is the District Office.
There were soldiers that were actually patrolling and guarding the area. But I saw them packing their things and I drove there and asked two of them that we heard this report (about Boko Haram impending attack), which I am sure you heard too. You are packing your things and it does not speak well for the community and for me as a religious leader. “I was told that the community was disturbing them and that is why they have to move.
I told them that it was not the community that kept you here but the government. But they told me they were ordered, but I don’t know where the orders came from,” Dariya said, adding that it baffled them that the soldiers who were there for quite some time were pulled out and the following day, the blast hit the church.
He was, however, quick to add that as Christians, they had forgiven the perpetrators of the act, and had left vengeance for the Lord. Dariya said that on the day of the attack, about 200 children were in the Sunday school section but no one was a victim among them.
But in a swift reaction, the Commandant, Nigerian Army Depot, Zaria, Brigadier-General Hussaini Salihu said the Army did not withdraw soldiers from the ECWA Church, in Zaria, saying that it was not Army’s responsibility to guard a place of worship in the first place.
He also said that the leadership or members of the ECWA Church, Wusasa, Zaria, did not apply for soldiers to guard the church, saying, “there is no such application on my table.” Speaking to Daily Sun in a telephone interview, General Salihu noted that as part of the community under his command, soldiers patrol areas where there are churches, just like every other places, especially on worship days.
but it was impossible to station soldiers at a particular worship place, where there were many others to patrol. According to him, only Zaria and Sabon Gari, out of the seven local government areas under Zaria Depot of the Nigerian Army are