The Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Sokoto, Matthew Hassan-Kukah, has suspended all Masses in Sokoto metropolis, The Religion Nigeria reports.
This was contained in a statement on Saturday signed by the Director, Social Communications of the Catholic Diocese of Sokoto, Rev. Fr Christopher Omotosho.
Omotosho noted that Kukah’s residence was not attacked though rampaging hoodlums vandalised and torched two of the parishes presided over by the fiery preacher.
The statement obtained by Religion Nigeria was titled, ‘Current Development In Sokoto’.
It read, “The Sokoto State Government has declared 24-hour curfew to help stem the ongoing protests embarked upon by Muslim youth in the state capital today.
“During the protest, groups of youths led by some adults in the background attacked the Holy Family Catholic Cathedral at Bello Way, destroying church glass windows, those of the Bishop Lawton Secretariat were also attacked and a community bus parked within the premises vandalised.
“St. Kevin’s Catholic Church Gidan Dere, Eastern By-pass, was also attacked and partly burnt; windows of the new hospital complex under construction, in the same premises were shattered.
“They were promptly dispersed by a team of Mobile policemen before they could do further damage.
“The hoodlums also attacked the Bakhita Centre located along Aliyu Jodi Road and burnt down a bus within the premises.”
On Thursday, Kukah described as criminal, the gruesome murder of Deborah Yakubu, a 200-level Home Economics student of Shehu Shagari College of Education in Sokoto, North-West Nigeria.
He had also called on the authorities to ensure “those who are guilty of this inhuman act, no matter their motivation, are punished according to the extant laws of our land.”
The police said two suspects had been arrested in connection with the killing of Deborah, who was mauled and burnt to death on the school premises for alleged blasphemy against Prophet Muhammad (SAW).
The school management had shut down indefinitely.
Hundreds of placard-carrying Muslim youths began a protest in Sokoto on Saturday morning and demanded the release of the two suspects.
The Muslim protesters clashed with security operatives who fired shots to disperse the surging demonstrators.
Governor Aminu Tambuwal subsequently imposed a curfew on the state amid rising tension.
Kukah commended Tambuwal “for acting promptly by declaring the 24-hour curfew to stem the protests”.
He also commended the security forces for promptly rising to the occasion to prevent further damage to the church’s facilities.
The Bishop said no life was lost in the attacks and noted, “Contrary to information in circulation, we wish to disclaim that there was an attack of any sort on the residence of Bishop Matthew Hassan Kukah.
Kukah appealed to Christians to remain law-abiding and pray for the return of normalcy.
“All Masses in Sokoto metropolis have been suspended until the curfew is lifted,” the statement added.
Following Tambuwal’s directive, Kaduna State Governor, Nasir el-Rufai, banned religious protests in Kaduna, saying some “unpatriotic elements” planned to organise a “series of for-and-against protests” related to the unfolding event in Sokoto.