Facing a charge of criminal trespass for the partial demolition of the facility in September, Mohammed Uduans has filed a civil suit against Segun Towobola, pastor and president of Breadwinners International Christian Centre in the Kissayip area of Bassa, 14 miles north of Jos in Plateau state, claiming ownership of the property.
“If this Muslim succeeds in achieving his plan to take over our church property, we’ll adversely be affected, as our evangelism outreach here would be terminated, and our discipleship and vocational training program would end,” Pastor Towobola told Morning Star News.
Uduans became upset after learning two years ago that the ministry was holding worship meetings at the facility near his home, Pastor Towobola said. Uduans was further incensed to learn of the ministry’s educational and vocational classes for orphans and the poor in the area, and he began laying claim to the property, culminating on Sept. 18 when he led a group of Muslims to destroy part of the ministry’s building, the pastor said.
“My wife, kids, and other students were holding classes on the premises when Mohammed and his group carried out the destruction on our property,” he said. “I immediately rushed to the church to see them carrying out the destruction. I had to call in the police, who arrested him and his group.”
Police charged Uduans with criminal trespass on the church’s property, the pastor said.
“My wife and children were harassed and tormented when I arrived at the property,” he said. “They were crying as the destruction was going on. So I had no choice but to call the police, who arrested him. The case is currently with the Grade 1 Area Court, here in Bassa town.”
Pastor Towobola said Uduans has openly boasted that he would take possession of the property by force through his government connections and wealth.
“Mohammed Uduans since his arrest and detention by the police, and after being released by the police, has boasted that he has relations in the government and the money to take possession of our property, as he said he would never allow a church near his house,” he said.
Uduans declined to comment to Morning Star News, saying only, “I cannot talk with you as the case is in the court.”
Pastor Towobola said the church bought the property from a military officer in the Nigerian Army two years ago, and that the officer was the owner of the property for seven years before selling.
The church paid 500,000 naira (US$2,485) for the property, which already had a building on it, and subsequently redesigned it to provide a worship hall and classrooms for teaching vocational skills and discipling orphans and children of the poor in the community, he said.
“We have all the necessary documents for this land, and we have presented them before the court,” the pastor said. “We have been on the property now for two years, yet our Muslim neighbor has been troubling us.”
Pastor Towobola on Nov. 26 received a summons from the Area Court, Jebbu-Bassa, case file number CU/20/15, requesting he appear in court as a defendant in the civil suit by Uduans to take possession of the church property. The court on Nov. 30 announced that a hearing was set for Dec. 17.
Pastor Towobola asked that Christians pray for his ministry. In addition to church planting and discipleship, the ministry also runs Living Waters Christian Publishing, which has published many Christian writers.
Christians make up 51.3 percent of Nigeria’s population of 158.2 million, while Muslims account for 45 percent and live mainly in the north, according to Operation World.