By ALEX UANGBAOJE, Kaduna
Following the outraged over the death of one Sylvester Sunday, who drowned in a river while working as a mason for Celestial Church of Christ (CCC), Bayan Dutse, Narayi, Kaduna on Wednesday 21st March 2018, the Church has cleared the air on the controversies surrounding the matter.
Addressing a press conference on Tuesday in Kaduna, head of the Church in the State, Evangelist Dr. Sam Atolagbe, stated that his death was an accident and not a ritual as alleged by the community.
Recall that Sylvester Friday’s death sparked outrage in Bayan Dutse, community which led to the burning down of the Church, Narayi Police Post, an SUV and other valuables worth millions of naira.
“We reiterate that what happened on that day was an accident and by no means ritual. The church separate itself wholly from any kind of diabolical activity based on the Church’s Doctrine and tenets.
“We express concern over the plight of our parishes located around the vicinity of the incident as the mob has vowed to carry out more damages.” He said.
According to him, the deceased Sylvester Friday a 21 year old boy and a member of the community who has been a mason with the church had worked with the church on her constructions for some time now.
“On the fateful day the 21st March 2018, he was engaged by the Shepherd Steven Shittu to do a small work by the bank of the river where the church was trying to control the erosion that was claiming the church land, a project that had
been on for some time.
“While working, he slipped into a deeper part of the water and the shepherd supervising raised an alarm when he realized the drowning of the mason, the neighbors that came around could not help much, in desperation he ran to the
nearest police outpost to report the situation and get expert divers to rescue the boy.
“As the shepherd was laying his complaint at the police station, a report came in that the boy had drowned, the body recovered from the river and that the church had also been set ablaze by the mob.
“The police then advised that the shepherd should remain in their
custody to avoid been lynched by the mob. While the shepherd remained in police custody, the mob burnt down the church building and destroyed other buildings within the church premises and also burnt down a SUV Jeep belonging to one of the church
He explained that, the Church has not been able to pay a condolence visit on the family of the boy because the tension that resulted in the incidence, adding that once the tension is doused, they will do the needful.
While commiserating with the bereaved family, Evangelist Atolagbe added that, the family, community and Kaduna and the rest of the world should know that the Pastor of Bayan Dutse branch and the Church in general has never been engaged in any ritual tendencies and can never do anything contrary to their faith.
“The shepherd, Steven Shittu has served in the vineyard of the Lord for over Two decades being a role model and a spiritual leader having raised faithful disciples for Jesus Christ and still serving.
“Over the past four years, part of the church land has been lost due to
water erosion and efforts have been made to recover the eroded land which normally involves the shepherd engaging some of the youths of the community to carry out construction work to barricade portions where the erosion is less severe.” He said.
He commended the efforts of the Nigeria Police Force, other authorities and concerned persons for their prompt and appropriate steps to curb the incident that could have led to further death and destruction of property.
“We further call on the police and other relevant authorities to keep up the good works and enjoin all parishioners to remain calm and law abiding.” He added.