The leader of TEKAN/ECWA bloc of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Rev. Dr. Emmanuel Dziggau was kidnapped by unknown gunmen in Kaduna State on Monday, March 21, 2016.
According to a close family source who confirmed the kidnapping of Dziggau to The Trent, this disturbing development is believed to be connected with “subterranean moves being made by some forces in the country to influence the election of the next President of CAN”.
Religious tensions in Kaduna have reached an all-time high following moves by the governor of the state, Malam Nasir El Rufai to clampdown on Christian activities in the state. In recent weeks, El Rufai has enacted policies which many in the Christian community view as discriminatory and targeted as “punishing them for not voting for him in 2015”.
El Rufai has deliberately altered the school calendar in Kaduna State to prevent schools closing for the Easter break. In a strongly worded directive to all schools in the state, the state government warned of sanctions to any school which dared to declare a break for the Easter holidays. Easter is the period when Christian remember the crucifixion, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Nigerian governments programme the school calendar for the second term holidays to fall within the Easter period.
A predominantly Christian community housing over 4,000 people, Gbabyi has been earmarked for demolition in a few days by the Kaduna State government. Already, El Rufai is being hotly criticised by Christian clerics around the country for “resurrecting” a 1984 decree that seeks to regulate religious preaching in the state.
Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor, two-time president of CAN and incumbent leaves office in July 2016 and there have been reports of attempts by the Buhari-led government and the ruling party, the All Progressives Congress (APC) to influence the outcome of the upcoming elections of the umbrella Christian body in Nigeria by ensuring that a Northern cleric is elected into the influential position.
According to sources within the CAN bloc, Rev. Dziggau, a one-time national president of the Fellowship of Churches of Christ in Nigeria (FCCN), has consistently resisted pressure to allow outside political interference in the election process to produce the next President of CAN.
Dziggau has openly hinted to the fact that the government was interested in installing a “friendly” CAN president “from the North” and expressed his neutrality on the upcoming elections. His principled stance has “drawn anger from some influential Christians in President Muhammadu Buhari’s government”.
“Please pray for the safety and release of Rev. Dr. Dzzigau,” a family member said in an email to The Trent. “The Church in Nigeria is facing perilous times.”
The abductors have not made any ransom demand to the family as at the time of filing this report.